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After Lightning Strikes on the Washington Monument, Benjamin Butler Asks About Similar Strikes on the Pyramids
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The former Union major general discusses the Washington Monument in relation to the Egyptian pyramids and shares other news and happenings back home. Reading in part:


“The Washington Monument had got a crack of a thunderbolt which knocked the top of it somewhat, and as the pyramids are the next highest things, and had stood so many years, I wondered whether there were any thunder claps there, and whether the lightening [sic] had ever troubled them --whether there was any such thing in Egypt, and I did not know where to turn to the authorities. Because if the pyramids have been open to thunder claps during the ages they have stood there must have been a good deal of demolishment, apparently, as in the year the Washington Monument was finished the top of that got badly knocked, although great pains had been taken to draw off the lightening [sic] by conductors, and I did not suppose they had lightening [sic] rods on the pyramids….

If you see something quite rare and not too expensive that would adorn the mantlepiece in my new office, which is a very fine room, and will send it to me, I should be very glad of it for I know you have taste in bric-a-brac. You are now Judge in Egypt. I think the administration is inclined to let you alone. Batchelder has tried to make mischief but I don’t think he has succeeded…”

BENJAMIN F. BUTLER. Typed Letter Signed, Boston, May 25, 1886, to Gen. J.B. Kinsman in Alexandria, Egypt. 2pp, 7.75 x 9.875 in. Stationery from the Law Offices of Butler, Washburn, and Webster.

Inventory #26793       Price: $550

Construction on the Washington Monument began in 1848, pausing from 1854-1877 due to lack of funding and the Civil War. The stone structure was completed in 1884, but the internal ironwork and other stone installations were not finished until 1888. Between 1885 and 1934, monument’s aluminum apex lost 1 cm of height due to lightning strikes.

Benjamin Franklin Butler (1818-1893) represented Massachusetts in the House of Representatives and the Senate, and later served as its governor. During the Civil War, his jurisdiction over the occupied city of New Orleans was extremely controversial. He refused to return fugitive slaves to the Confederacy, calling them “contraband of war,” an interpretation later upheld by the government. His order relating to the city’s women made him widely reviled by Southerners as “Beast Butler.” Returning to politics, in 1884, he lost the presidential nomination to Grover Cleveland. Butler used his offices to line his own pocket, but also promoted women's suffrage, took a strong stand against the Ku Klux Klan, and tried to assist the poor through various legislation.

Josiah B. Kinsman (1824-1912) had worked at Butler's law office. During the war, he served as an aide-de-camp and was later appointed by Butler as chief of a Department of Negro Affairs. Kinsman stressed the importance of vocational and literacy training; by 1864, North Carolina had more than 60 educators and 3000 students enrolled in Kinsman's program. After the war, Kinsman moved abroad to Egypt and became a judge.

Light edge toning, and spots of staining and soiling throughout. Boldly signed.

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