James D. Butler Speaks at Commencement

James Davie Butler, the first professor of Latin and Greek at State University, Madison, WI (now the University of Wisconsin), speaks at commencement.

Born in Rutland, VT, on 15 March 1815, Butler graduated from Middlebury College in 1836. He became a Congregational minister and held chairs of ancient languages at Wabash College from 1854 to 1858 and at the University of Wisconsin from 1858 to 1867.

The New York Times reported on the 1874 National Education Association meeting in Detroit where Butler read a paper entitled “Classical Studies in the Higher Institutions of Education” in which he “defended the study of the classics as a source of culture which could not be dispensed with.”

In 1875, Butler’s dedication address for the new Free Public Library in Madison, Wisconsin, entitled “Libraries as Leaven“, was published in the American Bibliopolist.

In his retirement, Butler remained in Madison and devoted himself to lecturing and writing until his death in 1905. He was an active member of the Wisconsin State Historical Society.