Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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BUTLER, William, soldier and politician, born in Prince William County, Virginia, in 1759 ; died in Columbia, South Carolina, 15 November, 1821. He was a son of James Butler, who was captured and murdered by the notorious Cunningham, was graduated at South Carolina College as a student of medicine, became a lieutenant in Lincoln's army in 1779, was engaged at Stono, and served in the famous corps of Pulaski. Butler next joined General Pickens, subsequently served with General Lee, under Greene, at the siege of Ninety-Six, and was detached on several separate services requiring celerity, courage, and vigilance. He at length rose to a command of mounted rangers, and took part in many affairs with the tortes. At the head of a body of cavalry, he, with Capt. Michael Watson, attacked and dispersed double the number of the enemy in Dean's swamp, though Watson fell in the action. He was soon after the war made a brigadier-general, and, in 1796, major general of militia. He was a member of the convention of 1787 to consider the adoption of the federal constitution, and, with General Sumter and others, voted against it. He was subsequently a member of the convention that passed the present constitution of South Carolina, for some time a member of the legislature, sheriff in 1794, and served as a magistrate. From 1801 till 1813, when he resigned his seat to make way for John C. Calhoun, he was a member of congress. In 1818 he was again a candidate for congress, but was defeated by Eldred Simkins. In the war of 1812 he commanded the South Carolina troops for state defense.
--His son, Andrew Pickens Butler, jurist, born in Edgefield district, South Carolina, 17 November, 1796 ; died near Edgefield Court-House, 25 May, 1857, was graduated at South Carolina College in 1817, admitted to the bar in 1819, and soon gained a reputation for eloquence and humor. He was elected to the legislature in 1824, and in 1825, as aide to Governor Manning, took part in the reception given to General Lafayette. In 1827 he was one of the committee that conducted the impeachment trial of Judge James, a revolutionary veteran, charged with incompetence and drunkenness. During the nullification troubles in 1831 he commanded a cavalry regiment. He was judge of sessions in 1833, and of the state court from 1835 till 1846, and was then appointed by the governor to the United States senate to fill a vacancy, and was afterward elected by the legislature, remaining a senator till his death. Soon after taking his seat he became chairman of the judiciary committee, and he took a conspicuous part in debate, particularly on questions affecting the south. He defended his report on the fugitive slave law in an able speech. His last effort was in reply to Charles Sumner and in defense of his state. Judge Butler was a relative of Preston S. Brooks, and it was because of remarks about him in debate that Mr. Brooks assaulted Mr. Sumner in the senate-chamber.
--Another son, Pierce Mason Butler, born in Edgefield district, South Carolina, 11 April, 1798; killed in the battle of Churubusco, Mexico, 20 August, 1847, received a military education, and entered the army in 1819 as second lieutenant of infantry. He displayed from the first abilities that promised distinction, was promoted to the rank of first lieutenant in 1823, and attained the grade of captain in 1825. After four years of service, he resigned his commission, and in 1829 became a resident of Columbia, South Carolina, and was elected president of a bank established at that place. In 1836 he resigned the office and accepted the appointment of lieutenant colonel in Goodwyn's regiment of South Carolina volunteers, raised to aid in suppressing the Seminole Indians of Florida. He served throughout the war, and won distinction in several hard-fought battles. On his return from Florida, he was in 1838 elected governor of South Carolina. At the end of his term, having given great satisfaction to the state by the dignity and ability that he displayed in the office, he was appointed by the president Indian agent, and filled that place to the satisfaction of the government until the beginning of the war with Mexico in 1846, when he resigned it to enter the army. He organized the Palmetto regiment, was elected its colonel, and led it with the greatest gallantry in the fierce conflicts in which it took part, winning marked distinction in the battle of Cerro Gordo. At the battle of Churubuseo, 22 August, 1847, Col. Butler was wounded in the early part of the engagement, but would not retire from the field, and continued to lead his men in the impetuous charge upon the Mexican lines until he was shot through the head and killed instantly. Col. Butler was over six feet in height, finely proportioned, his features classical, his face beaming with the ardor of his heroic spirit, and his bearing full of soldierly dignity.
--Another son, William Butler, born in Columbia, South Carolina, was educated at South Carolina College, and served in the federal house of representatives from 1841 till 1843.--Matthew Calbraith, senator, son of William, born near Greenville, South Carolina, 8 March, 1836, was educated at South Carolina College, studied law at Edgefield Courthouse with his uncle, was admitted to the bar in 1857, practiced at Edgefield Court-House, and was elected to the legislature in 1859. He entered the confederate service as captain in June, 1861, became colonel of the 2d South Carolina cavalry on 22 August, 1862, brigadier-general on 1 September, 1863, and afterward a major general, commanding Wright's and Logan's brigades of cavalry in the Army of northern Virginia. At the battle of Brandy Station, 9 June, 1863, he lost his right leg. He was elected to the legislature of South Carolina in 1866, was a candidate for lieutenant governor in 1870, and received the democratic vote for United States senator the same year. In 1876, when there were two contending state governments in existence, he was elected United States senator by the democratic legislature, as the successor of Thomas J. Robertson, republican. David T. Corbin, who was elected by the republican legislature, contested the election: but General Butler was admitted to the seat on 2 December, 1877. In 1882 he was re-elected for the term expiring 3 March, 1889.
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