Scope and arrangement
The James B. Butler papers are arranged in two series:
The papers in this series include correspondence and three accompanying letter books. The correspondence (Boxes 1-3) consists primarily of Butler's incoming letters, telegrams, and assorted memoranda received at the Treasury Department, 1882-1883. These items are arranged alphabetically and comprise: demands from persons desiring a position at the Treasury; letters of recommendation; requests from Treasury employees for pay increases, promotions, leaves of absence, and other such business-related matters to be handled by Butler; etc. Also included are unique items such as a list of presidential appointees to the Treasury, a list of members and their wages at the Virginia State Treasury Department, a partial list of so-called "nepotist" relatives all employed at the United States Treasury, and a copy of a Treasury Department examination. The three letter books (Box 4) are Butler's private records of his written responses to the correspondence received at the Treasury. All the letters in the copybooks are organized by an index and are distributed more or less chronologically (May 1882-March 1884). Both the correspondence and the letterbooks are of particular significance in the manner in which they reveal the spoils system of patronage prevalent during President Chester A. Arthur's administration (1881-1885) before the introduction of the Civil Service Reform Act.
The papers in this series include the unofficial correspondence of Charles J. Folger with James Butler (chief of appointment. Division D. 5 Treasury Department December 1331 to March. 10, 1884), records of campaign funds and expenses, newspaper clippings, and assorted reports from local Republican Party leaders. The correspondence (1881-1884) gives important details about the 1882 New York State gubernatorial elections as told by the letters written between the candidate Folger and his campaign manager Butler. They describe Folger's eventual defeat by his opponent Grover Cleveland. The small collection of campaign funds and expenses (1882) include hotel and transportation fees, bills for the printing of posters, and notations for other expenses accrued during the 1882 New York gubernatorial campaign. The newspaper clippings (1881-1884) contain news items regarding the United States Treasury, and in particular sane articles describing the positions held by Butler and Folger within the department. Included is an obituary page from the Geneva Courrier written at the death of Charles Folger. The reports of local Republican leaders (1882) consist of two series of letters. The first includes accounts by party members who accurately determined that the Republican factional fight would lead to the defeat of Folger by Cleveland. Also included here are impossible demands for campaign funds that could not be met. The second is a series of letters written by those Republican leaders who complacently assumed Folger's victory of the New York State governorship.