Butler, William O. (of KY)

Born: 1791-04-19 Jessamine County, Kentucky

Died: 1880-08-06 Carrollton, Kentucky

William O. Butler was an attorney, army officer, and U.S. Representative. He moved with his parents to Maysville, Kentucky, where he pursued preparatory studies for college. He attended Transylvania University, graduating in 1812. Looking to make law his profession, Butler began reading law in Lexington, Kentucky. The onset of the War of 1812 interrupted his studies, and in August 1812, Butler enlisted as a private in the Kentucky Militia. Elected corporal by men in his unit, Butler assisted in the relief of Fort Wayne. He received a commission as an ensign in the U.S. Seventeenth Infantry. He was wounded and captured at the Second Battle of the Raisin River. After his release, Butler received promotion to captain of the Forty-Fourth Infantry. The War Department promoted him to brevet major for his service at the Battle of New Orleans. After the war, Butler remained in the army, serving as aid to Andrew Jackson in 1816 and 1817. Leaving the army, he resumed his law studies, earning admission to the Kentucky bar in 1817 and opening a law practice in Carrollton, Kentucky. Venturing into politics, Butler served in the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1817 and 1818. In 1838, Kentucky voters elected him as a Democrat to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served from March 1839 to March 1843. Not a candidate for reelection in 1842, Butler returned to his law practice. Upon the commencement of the Mexican War, Butler received a commission as major general of volunteers. Congress awarded him a sword and the Thanks of Congress for his gallantry in the capture of Monterrey. In 1848, Democrats nominated Butler as its vice-presidential candidate alongside presidential nominee Lewis Cass. Butler was a delegate to the Washington Peace Conference in February 1861.

Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kentucky. Soldiers of the War of 1812 (Frankfort, KY: E. Polk Johnson, 1891), 109; Francis P. Blair, The Life and Public Service of Gen. William O. Butler(Baltimore: N. Hickman, 1848), 6-15; Biographical Directory of the American Congress 1774-1996(Alexandria, VA: CQ Staff Directories, 1996), 758; Gravestone, Butler Family Cemetery, Carrollton, KY.