Marion Butler papers, 1862-1938 (bulk 1890-1927).

Creator: Butler, Marion, 1863-1938.
Collection number: 114
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Abstract: Marion Butler of Sampson County, N.C., was president of the North Carolina and National Farmers’ Alliance and Industrial Union; state and national Populist Party leader; member of the North Carolina Senate; United States senator, 1895-1901; and Republican Party leader after 1904. He owned and edited a newspaper, the Caucasian, located at various times in Clinton, Goldsboro, and Raleigh, N.C. He practiced law in Washington, D.C., 1901-1938. Personal, political, and business correspondence and other papers of Marion Butler, chiefly 1890-1927. Personal letters include correspondence with his brothers George Butler, Lester Butler, and Henry Butler; his wife Florence Faison Butler; and his sons Marion Butler, Jr., and Edward F. Butler. Business and legal papers document Butler’s work as a lawyer in Washington, D.C., and newspaper owner in Clinton and Raleigh, N.C., as well as his interest in mining and oil investment in Mexico and the western United States, in new inventions, in securing government contracts for various corporations, and in establishing a colony of South Africans in Mexico. His activities as attorney in cases of claims against the United States government, including Civil War claims cases and Indians claims cases as well as other legal cases involving Indians, are also documented. Prominent business correspondents include Josiah M. Vale, Richard Franklin Pettigrew, Baylus Cade, and Lester Butler. Political papers reflect Butler’s activities in the state and national Farmers’ Alliances, 1892-1895; his campaigns as a Populist candidate and chairman of the national Populist Party; his legislative interests, especially in postal services and agriculture; and his activities as a leader in the North Carolina Republican Party. Political correspondence reflects the major state and national issues in turn-of-the- century politics, including currency reform and free silver, trusts, the white supremacy campaigns in North Carolina in 1898 and 1900, and political patronage. Political correspondents include Daniel Lindsay Russell, Walter Clark, J. H. (Cyclone) Davis, Benjamin Orange Flower, Cyrus Thompson, Jeter Conley Pritchard, William Jennings Bryan, Spencer Adams, W. S. O’B. Robinson, Tom Watson, John Motley Morehead, and many others.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlight: There is a significant amount of documentation related to the White Supremacy campaigns around the turn of the 20th century. In June and July 1898 there are letters from county Populist leaders responding to Butler’s request for information on the political situation in their counties. Many letters discuss disfranchisement of African Americans and scare tactics allegedly employed by state Democrats. Also discussed in 1898 are disputes over the appointment and retention of African Americans as postmasters as well as applications and recommendations of many others for the postmasterships in North Carolina (see also Series 2.2.3).