Made at the Library, “Benjamin Franklin Butler: A Noisy, Fearless Life,” with author Elizabeth D. Leonard
Join us for a conversation with author Elizabeth D. Leonard about her recent biography of the controversial Civil War general and politician Benjamin F. Butler, “Benjamin Franklin Butler: A Noisy, Fearless Life” (UNC Press, 2022).
Long after his death in 1893, Butler was remembered largely by caricatures. As “Beast Butler,” the Yankee general who insulted the honor of white Southern women and purportedly stole silver spoons while in command of New Orleans in 1862. As a political opportunist who changed parties frequently in order to advance his own ambitions. But how much does Butler’s historical reputation reflect the reality of his actions and motivations? Leonard discovered an ambitious and complicated man who championed radical causes and equality of opportunity, and whose thinking evolved with the times. Butler’s involvement in many of the most consequential events of his era made him a significant figure in nineteenth-century America, and argues for a more nuanced understanding of his life and legacy.
Elizabeth D. Leonard is the John J. and Cornelia V. Gibson Professor of History, Emerita, at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. Leonard is the author of several books on the Civil War era, including “Yankee Women: Gender Battles in the Civil War,” “All the Daring of the Soldier: Women of the Civil War Armies,” and “Lincoln’s Forgotten Ally: Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt of Kentucky,” co-winner of the Lincoln Prize in 2012. The discussion will be moderated by Manuscript Division historian Michelle Krowl and reference librarian Bruce Kirby.
Made at the Library is an event series highlighting works inspired by and emerging from research at the Library of Congress. Featuring authors, artists, and other creators in conversation with Library experts, this series takes a deep dive into the process of working with Library’s collections.
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