Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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BUTTRICK, John, soldier, born in 1715; died in Concord, Massachusetts, 16 May, 1791. He was one of the leaders of the Concord militia on the memorable 19th of April, 1775. BUTTS, Isaac, journalist, born in Washington, Dutchess County, New York. 11 January, 1816 ; died in Rochester, New York, 20 November, 1874. At the age of twelve he removed with his father's family to the town of Irondequoit, adjoining the City of Rochester, where he lived upon a farm and received common-school instruction. Approaching to majority, he sought a more liberal education and received it under the instruction of Prof. Chester Dewey, principal of the Rochester high school. After successfully following various pursuits, he adopted the profession of journalism, and in October, 1845, purchased and assumed editorship of the Rochester "Advertiser," the oldest daily paper in the United States west of Albany, and the leading organ of the Democratic party in western New York. During the following year, 1846, slavery became a prominent issue in the politics of the United States, as a consequence of the war with Mexico, and the pending acquisition of territory by treaty of peace. The question was, whether slavery should be allowed or prohibited by congress in the acquired territory, and discussion of it was forced in August, 1846, by the introduction in the house of representatives of the "Wilmot proviso," to the effect that slavery should be excluded. Mr. Butts took strong ground against both sides in the controversy, and promulgated the doctrine that the people of the territories should settle the question for themselves. Credit for the origin of this principle of "Popular Sovereignty," or "Squatter Sovereignty,:" as its opponents contemptuously stigmatized it, has been erroneously claimed for each of three distinguished senators--Daniel S. Dickinson, Lewis Cass, and Stephen A. Douglas--respectively from New York, Michigan, and Illinois. The records prove that it was first advocated by Mr. Butts in the daily "Advertiser" of 8 February, 1847; by Mr. Dickinson in the senate, 13 December, 1847; by General Cass in his Nicholson letter, 24 December, 1847; and by Judge Douglas in the discussion of the compromise measures in the senate, 17 June, 1850. In the division of the Democratic party that followed in 1848, Mr. Butts took side with the "Barnburners" of New York in support of Van Buren and Adams, against the " Hunkers," who sustained Cass and Butler.
After the defeat of the latter he sold the "Advertiser" to a syndicate of "Hunkers," and, retiring from editorial service, engaged in the enterprise of the House printing telegraph and in the construction of lines in the western states, converging at St. Louis. After the presidential election of 1852 he returned to journalism by the purchase of a half-interest in the Rochester daily "Union," which had been established in August of that year to support the Democratic candidates, Pierce and King. In 1857 the daily "Advertiser" was joined with the" Union," and Mr. Butts continued as editor until December, 1864, when he permanently retired. About the beginning of this last period of editorial service there was a consolidation of telegraphic lines and interests by the incorporation of the Western Union Telegraph Company, of which Mr. Butts was one of the organizers and for many years one of the managers. Mr. Butts never held any public position beyond acting as a delegate for his party in several state and national conventions. He was elected a delegate at large to the New York constitutional convention of 1866, but declined to serve. He was a man of marked talent, both natural and acquired. Possessed of an analytical and logical mind, he was a powerful controversialist ; and he has left brochures on finance, protection, free-trade, and other subjects, that are remarkable for originality and force. His volume on "Protection and Free-Trade," with a memoir, was published posthumously (New York, 1875).
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