Benjamin Butler (1818–1893) was an American politician and a Union general during the Civil War. During the 1850s, Butler served as a Democrat in the Massachusetts state legislature. Butler worked to compromise with Southerners to prevent disunion, but he steadfasty supported the Union when war broke out. He received a political appointment as a Union officer, and as brigadier general in the Massachusetts militia he commanded troops in putting down the Baltimore Riots of 1861. He was promoted to major general and stationed in command at Fort Monroe, Virginia. Butler declared escaped slaves “contraband of war” and refused to return them to their Confederate owners. In 1862, Butler was made military governor of Louisiana, where he issued his controversial General Orders No. 28. Butler was also responsible for raising the Louisiana Native Guard, one of the first black units to fight in the Union Army. He resigned his commission in late 1865 and as a Radical Republican supported civil rights for African Americans during Reconstruction. Butler was also an advocate for workers’ rights and later served as the governor of Massachusetts.

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