Home of General Butler


Historical Marker #634 in Carroll County notes the residence of Mexican-American War hero and 1848 vice presidential candidate, William Orlando Butler.

William O. Butler was born in Jessamine County, Kentucky, in 1791. He attended Transylvania University in Lexington, where he graduated in 1812. When the War of 1812 erupted, Butler enlisted as a private and was captured at the Battle of River Raisin. He was eventually exchanged, promoted to captain, and participated in the Battle of New Orleans, where he was promoted to major.

Butler remained in the army until 1817, when he settled in Carroll County. There, he practiced law and entered politics. He served in the Kentucky legislature from 1839 to 1843, and was nominated as the Democratic candidate for governor, but lost to Whig candidate William Owsley.

During the Mexican-American War, where Butler earned military fame, he was made a major general of volunteers and served with Gen. Zachary Taylor's invading force. At the Battle of Monterrey, Butler was second-in-command and was wounded in fierce fighting. The Kentucky legislature and the U.S. Congress awarded him presentation swords for his gallantry.

Butler's service in Mexico was not finished at Monterrey. When Gen. Winfield Scott left Mexico in 1848, Butler was placed in command of the remaining United States forces. He eventually oversaw the evacuation of the occupying army when the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed, which officially ended the war.

Much like the Whigs, who nominated Gen. Taylor for president in 1848, Butler was nominated by the Democrats to run as the vice presidential candidate with Michigan's Lewis Cass. After his defeat in that election, Butler returned to Kentucky. He was offered the territorial governor position for the Nebraska Territory in 1855, but declined. He died at his Carroll County home in 1880 at age 89.

Today, General Butler State Park in Carroll County preserves the Butler home built in 1859.

Photos Show

Lewis Cass and William Butler

An 1848 presidential campaign poster shows Cass and Butler on the Democratic ticket. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Up Salt River

This political cartoon shows the Democratic and Whig candidates for the 1848 election in the same boat being pulled by former president Martin Van Buren. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The Modern Colosus

In this political cartoon from the 1848 presidential campaign, Butler is shown on the right behind the eagle and on the "Democratic Platform," with running mate Lewis Cass. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Butler Presentation Sword

This presentation sword was given to William O. Butler by the Kentucky state legislature for his actions at the Battle of Monterrey. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society.

Butler Presentation Sword

Butler was given this gold presentation sword by the United States Congress for his leadership at the Battle of Monterrey. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society.

Lewis Cass and William Butler

Butler, shown here in a campaign poster, ran on the Democratic ticket in the 1848 presidential election as Vice President with Lewis Cass of Michigan. Cass and Butler lost to Whig Party candidates Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Cite this Page

Tim Talbott, “Home of General Butler,” ExploreKYHistory, accessed April 25, 2015, http:/​/​explorekyhistory.​ky.​gov/​items/​show/​205.​
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