Andrew Pickens Butler

Andrew Pickens Butler

Edgefield, Edgefield County, South Carolina, USA
Death 25 May 1857 (aged 60)
Edgefield, Edgefield County, South Carolina, USA
Cenotaph Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, USA
Plot Range 60, Site 84
Memorial ID 22633938 · View Source
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US Senator. Elected as a States Rights Democrat to the US Senate, representing South Carolina, he served from 1846 until his death. He was one of the authors of the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854), which created the new territories of Kansas and Nebraska west of the Missouri River. Its provisions for the expansion of slavery divided the nation and probably hastened the Civil War. Butler was born in Edgefield, South Carolina. He graduated from what is now the University of South Carolina at Columbia in 1817, was admitted to the bar the following year and practiced throughout Edgefield County. His first public office was as a member of the State House of Representatives. From 1824 to 1833 he served in the State Senate, and from 1834 to 1846 he was a judge of the State Court of Common Pleas. Butler was elected to the US Senate to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of George McDuffie, and was subsequently reelected to two terms. During his time on Capitol Hill he was Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. In 1853, Stephen Douglas, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Territories, was determined to open the Great Plains region of the Louisiana Purchase for settlement and eventual statehood. But he needed support from the South to get the necessary legislation passed, so he began bargaining with a powerful group of southern Senators nicknamed "The F Street Mess": Butler, David Atchinson from Missouri, and Virginia's James Mason and Robert M. T. Hunter. All were ardent supporters of slavery and insisted on bringing the issue to bear on Douglas's proposed bill. The resulting provisions included one for "popular sovereignity", in which all questions of slavery in the new territories would be decided by the settlers, and an amendment repealing the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which had prohibited slavery in most of the Louisiana Purchase. The Kansas-Nebraska Act was approved by Congress and signed into law by President Pierce on May 30, 1854. It provoked a firestorm of controversy. Abolitionists and pro-slavery advocates flocked to the new territories to influence (often by illegal means) whether they would enter the Union as free or slave states, precipitating the "Bleeding Kansas" period of regional strife that left scores dead. The fallout destroyed the Whig Party, led to the rise of the Republican Party, and weakened the political influence of the Democrats for two decades. Butler was incapacitated by a stroke for much of his last two years in office and did not live to witness the Civil War, but he was aware of a notorious incident that took place in Washington, at least in part, on his behalf. In May 1856, Abolitionist Senator Charles Sumner delivered his "Crime Against Kansas" speech in which he denounced Butler in bitter and mocking terms. Butler's nephew, South Carolina Congressman Preston Brooks, responded by assaulting Sumner in the Senate chamber and beating him so severely with a cane that it took Sumner three years to recover from his injuries. Butler later remarked that had he been present for Sumner's speech he would have called his opponent to order and possibly prevented the attack. He died at his estate near Edgefield; there is a cenotaph in his memory at Congressional Cemetery. Butler County in Kansas - which was admitted as a free state in 1861 - is named for him.

Bio by: Bobb Edwards



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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Marie & Dale V.
  • Added: 3 Nov 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 22633938
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Andrew Pickens Butler (18 Nov 1796–25 May 1857), Find A Grave Memorial no. 22633938, citing Congressional Cemetery, Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .