Benjamin Butler
Before the Civil War began, Benjamin Butler was an able criminal lawyer, a brash, articulate Massachusetts legislator, a friend to labor and to his Catholic constituents, a Democrat, and a supporter of the Union. Within days after the firing on Fort Sumter, Butler raised a regiment and led his troops to Washington despite the blockade in Baltimore where pro-slavery sentiment was strong. As a political maverick in the largely Republican Army, Butler enjoyed both freedom and notoriety throughout the war. In 1862, his harsh rule over the city of New Orleans angered local citizens, Jefferson Davis, and even European allies of the Confederate cause. Throughout the war, Butler was an advocate for the rights of former slaves; he supported the establishment of African American regiments, and forced the Confederacy to recognize the military status of black Union soldiers. In 1865, Butler continued his political career as a radical member of the Republican party, and a Congressman from Massachusetts. The following year, he became one of the leaders of the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson. This portrait was probably made in the spring of 1864, around the time U.S. Grant put Butler in command of the Army of the James River.

See William Marcy

Mathew Brady Studio
Albumen silver print, c. 1864
11.6 x 14.7 cm (4 9/16 x 5 13/16 inches)
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.