Encyclopedia Titanica

Archibald Butt, Military Aide to President Taft

Washington Times

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Major Archibald de Grafenreid Willingham Butt, who was on the Titanic, was returning to Washington on sick leave, and expected to resume his duties as military aide to President Taft at once. Suffering from that mild poisoning which follows an unending series of dinners and late hours occasioned by his official duties, Major Butt was granted sick leave February 29. The following day he went to New York, sailing for Naples. He was presented to the Pope, bearing to him an autograph letter from President Taft. He afterward visited Paris, being credited there with making a search for the last word in state etiquette so that innovations might be made at the White House. It was stated that Major Butt intended to make White House etiquette the model for the world.

Before his departure abroad the engagement of Major Butt to Miss Dorothy Williams, daughter of Col. and Mrs. John R. Williams, U. S. A., was rumored. Major Butt denied the rumor, though saying it was hardly necessary as “Miss Williams is already denying it.”

Major Butt was forty-five years old September 23, 1911. He did not appear to be so old. He was one of the most widely traveled men in the army.

Was a Reporter

As a young man he was a student at the University of the South, at Sewanee, Tenn., and decided upon journalism as profession. He came to Washington as correspondent for a syndicate of Southern newspapers. When Gen. Matt. Ransom was sent to Mexico as ambassador, Archie Butt was selected to go with him. Returning from Mexico the young newspaper man and budding diplomat entered the Spanish-American war, saw three years' service in the Philippines and at the close of the war returned to Washington as depot quartermaster here.

During his service here Captain Butt,as his title was then, attracted the attention of Colonel Roosevelt. The colonel, then President, appointed Captain Butt his military aide. Beginning at that time Major Butt entered upon a new career as a globe trotter. With President Roosevelt he traveled 20,000 miles or more. Since President Taft has been in the White House Major Butt has traveled 50,000 miles or more, including his last trip abroad.

On Sick Leave

Major Butt’s trip abroad was induced primarily by ill health. Like many bachelors in the Capital, his digestion gave way before the onslaught of dinners and his duties as aide to the President were arduous. When he last appeared at the White House he said he was not feeling well and his sallow complexion fully indicated illness. He was given indefinite sick leave, but said that he expected to be gone not longer than forty days. He then planned to take a fifteen-day boat to Naples and to take a slow boat back in order to got the benefit of the sea air.

Major Butt's acquaintance with President Taft went back to the Philippine experience. There the young officer had succeeded in making an efficient force out of 1,500 or more natives. This was remarkable, but an even more startling feat was the transportation of a shipload of mules from San Francisco to the islands without losing a single animal. While in the tropics Major Butt wrote a treatise on tropical diseases of animals.

Famous for the hospitality dispersed at his bachelor apartments, 2000 G street, Major Butt was equally well known among his friends for his hobbies. Chief among them was dogs. Pointers he owned in numbers and some of them were the best bred.

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Encyclopedia Titanica (2004) Archibald Butt, Military Aide to President Taft (Washington Times, Tuesday 16th April 1912, ref: #4016, published 21 October 2004, generated 24th October 2021 06:48:24 AM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/archibald-butt-military-aide-president-taft.html