Georgia-Alabama Investment and Development Co. signed by Benjamin Butler - Stock CertificateInv# AG1876 Stock
Stock signed by Benjamin Butler. American lawyer and politician who represented Massachusetts in the U. S. House of Representatives and later served as its governor. During the American Civil War, his administration of occupied New Orleans, his policies regarding slaves as "contrabands", his ineffectual leadership in the Bermuda Hundred Campaign, and the fiasco of Fort Fisher rank him as one of the most controversial "political generals" of the war. He was widely reviled for years after the war by Southern whites, who gave him the nickname "Beast Butler". Governor John A. Andrew sent Butler with a force of Massachusetts troops to reopen communication between the Union states and Washington, D.C. A major railroad connection from the Northeast passed through Baltimore and immediately after the start of the war it was unclear whether Maryland would stay in the Union. Butler arrived with the 8th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment by steamer at Annapolis on April 20, 1861. He employed his expert negotiation skills with the Governor of Maryland and by April 22, his regiment had disembarked and was put to work repairing damaged railroad tracks around Baltimore. At the same time, the 7th New York Infantry arrived and Butler assumed command of the entire force; his military career would be characterized by his eagerness to assume authority in the absence of official instructions. While Butler remained at Annapolis, the New Yorkers were the first Union troops to march into Washington following President Lincoln's initial call for volunteers. On May 13, Butler's remaining force occupied Baltimore without opposition. Lincoln appointed him the first major general of U.S. Volunteers, ranking from May 16, 1861. Assigned command of Fort Monroe in Virginia, Butler declined to return to their owners fugitive slaves who had come within his lines, on the grounds that, as laborers for fortifications, and so on, they were contraband of war, thereby justifying granting these slaves a relative freedom, in spite of the Fugitive Slave Law. The U.S. Congress later mandated that other Union commanders refuse to return slaves to their erstwhile masters. In the conduct of tactical operations, Butler was almost uniformly unsuccessful, and his first action at Big Bethel, Virginia, was a humiliating defeat for the Union Army. He was also head of the Department of Virginia. Later, in 1861, Butler commanded an expeditionary force that, in conjunction with the U.S. Navy, took Forts Hatteras and Clark in North Carolina. In May 1862, he commanded the force that occupied New Orleans after it was captured by the Navy. In the administration of that city he showed great firmness and severity. New Orleans was unusually healthy and orderly during the Butler regime. Many of his acts, however, gave great offense, such as the seizure of $800,000 that had been deposited in the office of the Dutch consul and his imprisonment of the French Champagne magnate Charles Heidsieck. Most notorious was Butler's General Order No. 28 of May 15, issued after some provocation, that if any woman should insult or show contempt for any officer or soldier of the United States, she shall be regarded and shall be held liable to be treated as a "woman of the town plying her avocation", i.e., a prostitute. This order provoked protests both in the North and the South, and also abroad, particularly in England and France, and it was doubtless the cause of his removal from command of the Department of the Gulf on Dec. 17, 1862. On June 7 he had executed one William B. Mumford, who had torn down a United States flag placed by Admiral Farragut on the United States Mint in New Orleans; for this execution, he was denounced (December 1862) by Confederate President Jefferson Davis in General Order 111 as a felon deserving capital punishment, who if captured should be reserved for execution. In November 1863, Butler commanded the Department of Virginia and North Carolina, and, in May 1864, the forces under his command were designated the Army of the James. He was ordered to attack in the direction of Petersburg from the east, destroying the rail links supplying Richmond and distracting Robert E. Lee, in conjunction with attacks from the north by Ulysses S. Grant. Grant had little use for Butler's military skills, but Butler had strong political connections that kept him in positions beyond his competence. Rather than striking immediately at Petersburg as ordered, Butler's offensive bogged down east of Richmond in the area called the Bermuda Hundred, immobilized by the greatly inferior force of Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard, and he was unable to accomplish any of his assigned objectives. But it was his mismanagement of the expedition against Fort Fisher, North Carolina, that finally led to his recall by General Grant in December. He resigned his commission on Nov. 30, 1865.
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