In her new biography, Benjamin Franklin Butler: A Noisy, Fearless Life (Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2022), Elizabeth D. Leonard chronicles Butler’s successful career in the law defending the rights of the Lowell Mill girls and other workers, his achievements as one of Abraham Lincoln’s premier civilian generals, and his role in developing wartime policy in support of fugitives from enslavement as the nation advanced toward emancipation.
Leonard also highlights how Butler’s limited understanding of racism and the horrors of enslavement transformed over time, leading him into a postwar role as one of the nation’s foremost advocates for Black freedom and civil rights, and a notable opponent of white supremacy and neo-Confederate resurgence.
After President Andrew Johnson was impeached in early 1868, Butler served as the lead prosecutor in the House of Representatives. Later, as Chairman of the House Committee on Reconstruction, Butler authored the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 and coauthored the Civil Rights Act of 1875.
The Massachusetts Historical Society will host “Benjamin Franklin Butler: A Noisy, Fearless Life,” a program with Leonard and Kanisorn Wongsrichanalai set for Thursday, October 20th.
This program will take place from 6 to 7 pm, and will be held both in person at the Massachusetts Historical Society, and virtually via Zoom. There is a $10 fee for in person attendance. For more information or to register, click here.
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