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Guide to the Benjamin Franklin Butler Collection
Wyles SC 46  
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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 (1 folder)
Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Department of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.