DescriptionHistorical 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.