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The Rev. John George Butler

John George Butler (January 28, 1826 – August 3, 1909) was a prominent Lutheran clergyman who served as Chaplain of the Senate and as Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives.


Early yearsEdit

John George Butler was born in Cumberland, Maryland on January 28, 1826, the son of Jonathan Butler. His paternal grandfather and namesake was a well-known pioneer minister of the Evangelical Lutheran church. He was educated at the Cumberland Academy and graduated from the Pennsylvania College (now Gettysburg College), and the Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He worked for a time at his father’s store in Berlin, Pennsylvania.[1]


Ordained in 1848, he became pastor of the St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Washington, D.C. in 1849, serving there twenty-four years. He was one of the first regimental and hospital chaplains appointed by President Abraham Lincoln at the outbreak of the American Civil War. He also served as chaplain to one of Lincoln’s assassins, assuring him of divine compassion even to the gallows.[2] At the end of the war he returned to Washington and was elected Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives.

He was the organizing pastor of the Luther Place Memorial Church, in Washington, D.C., founded in 1873. He was also responsible for the heroic statue of Martin Luther in Luther Place, erected in 1884 on Luther's 400th anniversary.[3]

Butler served as Chaplain of the Senate (1886–1893), and as professor of church history and homiletics at Howard University.[4] He died at the age of 83, on August 3, 1909, in his home, in Washington, D.C.[5]

Personal lifeEdit

John George and Ann E. Butler were the parents of Ella C. Butler, Dr. William K. Butler, Charles H. Butler (who was also a Lutheran pastor), and Grace E. Butler.[6]


  1. ^ American Lutheran Biographies: or, Historical Notices of Over Three Hundred ..., p. 129
  2. ^ Keith Deisner on the website: "Peter & Paul Community Services"
  3. ^ Men of Mark in America: Ideals of American Life, Volume 1, by Merrill Edwards Gates, p. 186
  4. ^ The Pennsylvania College, Books 1832-1882, by Gettysburg College. Alumni Association p. 356
  5. ^ NY Times obituary, August 3, 1909
  6. ^ 1880 U S Census
Religious titles
Preceded by
Charles B. Boynton
45th US House Chaplain
March 4, 1869 – December 6, 1875
Succeeded by
S.L. Townsend
Preceded by
Elias DeWitt Huntley
48th US Senate Chaplain
March 15, 1886 – April 6, 1893
Succeeded by
William Henry Milburn