Butterfield, John, 1801–69, American stagecoach proprietor and expressman, b. near Albany, N.Y. Beginning as a stage driver out of Albany, he rose to ownership of a large network of stage lines. He helped to merge his express company with others to form (1850) the American Express Company. In 1857, when Congress established the overland mail route to Los Angeles, Butterfield was awarded the mail contract. He organized the service on the 2,800-mi (4,500-km) southern route efficiently and continued it until 1861, when the stages were moved to the central route. He also promoted the development of telegraph lines and railroads, and in 1865 he was elected mayor of Utica, N.Y.
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