Benjamin Franklin Butler (November 5, 1818 – January 11, 1893) was an American lawyer and politician who represented Massachusetts in the United States House of Representatives (1867-1875, 1877-1879) and later served as governor of Massachusetts (1883-1884). At different phases of his career, Butler was Democrat, a Republican, and an independent. He supported Jefferson Davis for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1860, unsuccessfully. Butler was himself the presidential nominee of the "Greenback" and "Anti-Monopoly" coalition of minor parties in 1884, coming in fourth place and receiving very few votes.
During the American Civil War, Butler was a General in the United States Army. He proved to have little or no skill for combat, and spent most of the war in desk jobs. His administration of occupied New Orleans, his policies regarding slaves as contraband, his ineffectual leadership in the Bermuda Hundred Campaign, and the fiasco of Fort Fisher rank him as one of the most controversial political generals of the war. Unfairly maligned by out-of-context misreporting and malicious gossip about his policies, he was widely reviled for years after the war by Southern white people, who gave him the nickname "Beast Butler."
A bronze statue of Benjamin Butler, the first of many US Military Governors, stood in New Orleans, Louisiana. FBS Agent Neil Michaels thought Butler an unlikely choice for such an honor. So did the white locals, many of whom held neo-Confederate sentiments. As a result, the statue ended up getting blown up twice throughout its history. The statue was first blown up in the 1880s and then again in the 1920s. Michaels was surprised to see that, despite that history, it was unguarded in 1942.
Benjamin Butler had risen to prominence early in the Second American Revolution when he commanded a Union garrison at New Orleans. After an armistice was negotiated in 1864, United StatesPresidentAbraham Lincoln and ConfederatePresidentJefferson Davis agreed to a peace conference with three Peace Commissioners appointed by each side. Lincoln appointed Butler as one of the three U.S. commissioners. Given his conduct during his time as the Commander of the Department of the Gulf and Davis' General Order 111, Confederates considered his appointment as a Commissioner an affront and insult, and barely concealed their hatred for the man during the negotiations. Nevertheless, they were required to extend Butler diplomatic immunity and provided him a strong guard- in part so nothing could happen to him that would inevitably be blamed on the Confederacy by the United States.
Though a "laughable soldier", the fat lawyer was no fool. Through each topic discussed between the two commissions, Butler was an active and aware participant. He missed no detail that mattered, and even his rudeness was sometimes a calculated weapon; Robert E. Lee suspected that Butler had insulted C.S. Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin for being Jewish specifically to upset him, and thereby gain an edge as Butler himself continued to think logically. Lee realized why Lincoln had chosen Butler as a negotiator: though a terrible soldier, rude, and very likely corrupt, Butler was highly intelligent, a shrewd negotiator, and he ruthlessly pursued gains for the U.S. during the talks.
Ultimately, a peace treaty was negotiated whereby the Confederacy abandoned claims to West Virginia and Maryland, while the United States ceded the Indian Territory. Also, state-wide referenda were to be held to determine the status of Kentucky and Missouri. Kentucky elected to join the C.S. while Missouri voted to remain with the U.S.
Benjamin Butler had been a politician of the Democratic Party when the War of Secession began in 1861. He left the party and joined the Army to fight the war. He was best known for commanding the occupation garrison of New Orleans, Louisiana, a post in which he was most thoroughly despised by the locals. When the Union was defeated, Butler was forced to flee New Orleans for his life; the Confederate authorities had promised to hang him for war crimes without a trial. In the aftermath of the war, Butler left the army and returned to politics, this time joining the Republican Party as an anti-Confederate hard-liner.
When the Second Mexican War began in 1881, Butler was more than enthusiastic to fight it, but as the war progressed and turned against the Union, Butler grew bitter and openly critical of US PresidentJames Blaine.
In late 1881, Butler was one of several prominent leaders of the Republican Party to attend a convention called by Abraham Lincoln at the Florence Hotel in Chicago, Illinois. He resisted Lincoln's proposal to replace hostility toward the Confederate States with workers' rights as the central plank of the party's platform. Butler steadfastly refused to drop his anti-Confederate policies. He blamed the loss of the war on the social and moral weakness of the country, and argued that it needed to rebuild itself into a more authoritarian nation if the USA was to ever be triumphant over the CSA. When he realized he wasn't going to get his way, Butler walked out of the meeting. In the chaos that followed, the Republican Party split, with the liberal faction joining the Socialist Party, while Butler left the Republican Party and rejoined the Democrats, taking all of the conservative hardliners with him.