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Benjamin Franklin Butler

Gov. Benjamin Franklin Butler

  • January 4, 1883 - January 2, 1884
  • Democratic, National
  • November 5, 1818
  • January 11, 1893
  • New Hampshire
  • Waterville College (now Colby College)
  • Married Sarah Hildreth; three children
  • Representative
  • Army


BENJAMIN F. BUTLER, the thirty-fifth governor of Massachusetts, was born in Deerfield, New Hampshire on November 5, 1818. His education was attained at the Exeter Academy, and at Colby College, where he graduated in 1838. He studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1840, and then established a successful legal career in Massachusetts. Butler first entered politics in 1853, serving as a one-term member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. He also served as a member of the Massachusetts State Senate in 1859, and was a delegate to the 1860 Democratic National Convention. With the start of the Civil War, Butler joined the Union Army and rose through the ranks from brigadier general to major general. After his military service, he resumed his political career. He served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1867 to 1875 and 1877 to 1879. He also made four unsuccessful bids for the governor’s office, before finally winning election on November 7, 1882. During his tenure, the state’s charitable organizations were scrutinized for misuses; however, nothing tangible resulted from the investigation. After running unsuccessfully for reelection, Butler left office on January 3, 1884. Later that same year, he made an unsuccessful bid for president on the Greenback and Anti-Monopolist ticket. He then retired from political life, and returned to his legal and business interests. Governor Benjamin F. Butler passed away on January 11, 1893, and was buried at the Hildreth Cemetery in Lowell, Massachusetts.


Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

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