PIERCE MASON BUTLER was born in Mount Willing, Edgefield District, South Carolina. He attended Moses Waddel’s Academy in Abbeville, South Carolina. Appointed a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army in 1818, he rose to the rank of Captain, resigning his commission in 1829. He went on to enter the banking profession, becoming president of the State Bank of South Carolina. He signed the Nullification Ordinance of 1832 that proclaimed South Carolina’s nullification of federal tariff laws, and he was elected a trustee of South Carolina College in 1833. During the Seminole War, he was a Lieutenant Colonel in the South Carolina Militia, returning to Columbia in 1836. After being elected governor, he sought to mend fences in the state that had been damaged during the now-resolved nullification controversy. In addition, he appointed a commission to survey-and make recommendations for improvements to-South Carolina’s public school system. And he supported the proposed Louisville, Cincinnati & Charleston Railroad, intended to link South Carolina with Kentucky and Ohio and improve relations between the south and the west. After leaving office, Butler was appointed U.S. agent to an Indian tribe, a post from which he resigned in 1846 due to ill health. At the outbreak of the Mexican War he was appointed Colonel of the Palmetto Regiment of South Carolina Volunteers. He was killed in the Battle of Churubusco, Mexico, and his body was returned to Edgefield District, South Carolina for burial.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 12. New York: James T. White & Company.