The collection contains three letters (ALS) about various Civil War-related issues. The first, written in the spring of 1861,
is addressed to the Secretary of War, Simon Cameron, and touches on Butler's concern for what he calls the "negro question,"
that is, the official status of the slaves in Confederate territory occupied by Union troops. Butler would continue to deal
with African-American issues throughout the war and his subsequent political career.
Benjamin Franklin Butler was born in 1818, but his father died when he was an infant, leaving the family penniless. Butler
grew up in Lowell, Massachusetts, where his mother ran a boarding house. After failing to get into West Point, Butler studied
for the ministry at Waterville College, but after graduation he decided to become a lawyer instead. In the 1850s, Benjamin
Butler got involved in politics, and quickly developed a reputation for ruthlessness, switching political parties whenever
it suited his interest. His bid for governor of Massachusetts in 1860 garnered him a mere four percent of the vote. However,
he quickly received permission to form a state regiment to help ensure order at President Abraham Lincoln's inauguration.
Despite having no military training or experience, Butler was made a brigadier-general in the tiny militia, which he then
parlayed into the rank of U.S. Army general after the Civil War began.
.02 linear feet
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