Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Benjamin F. Butler (1837–1838): Attorney General

Benjamin Butler was born on December 17, 1795, in Kinderhook Landing, New York. A descendant of Oliver Cromwell, Butler attended Hudson Academy, studied law, and was admitted to the New York bar in 1817. He practiced law with Martin Van Buren and served as district attorney in Albany from 1821 to 1824; Butler would also serve on the commission for revision of New York state statutes in 1825.

In 1826, he was elected to New York Assembly, where he served from 1827 to 1833. Butler refused appointment to the New York Supreme Court. He served as U.S. attorney general in the administrations of Presidents Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren (1833-1838). President Jackson also appointed Butler secretary of war, and he served from October 1836 to March 1837. Butler left the cabinet to become U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York (1838-1841, 1845-1848). Benjamin Butler died in Paris, France, on November 8, 1858.