Civil War Union Army Major General, US Congressman, Massachusetts Governor. Born in Deerfield, New Hampshire, he graduated from Colby College in Maine in 1838. Butler started a law career but soon turned to politics. Butler married Sarah Hildreth in 1844. He was elected a Massachusetts state senator in 1859. In 1860, Butler was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention were he voted 57 times to nominate Jefferson Davis for President of the United States. After the northern Democrats nominated Stephen Douglas, Butler joined the southern Democrats in supporting States' Rights advocate John C. Breckinridge for President. At the start of the Civil War, Butler was appointed a Brigadier General of Massachusetts Volunteers, by President Lincoln. After a number of semi-successful military exploits, Butler was appointed military governor of New Orleans in 1862. His controversial actions as governor earned him the nickname "The Beast" and he was vilified in the South. He was called an outlaw by Confederate President Davis (the man he once supported to be President of the United States). He left New Orleans at the end of 1862 and his remaining war record was less than spectacular. After the war, Butler became a Radical Republican (a major switch from his prewar political life) and was elected to Congress in 1866. Butler was angered by President Andrew Johnson's soft treatment of the South, especially Jefferson Davis. As a House Manager, Butler was very zealous in his prosecution of President Johnson during his impeachment trial in 1868. He was elected Governor of Massachusetts in 1882. Loathed by Democrats and Republicans, he switched to his third political party, the Greenbackers. Butler was the presidential candidate of this party in 1884. He died in Washington D.C.
The inscription on Butler's monument reads, "the true touchstone of civil liberty is not that all men are equal but that every man has the right to be the equal of every other man - if he can."