Secretary of War Edwin Stanton


Edwin McMasters Stanton (1814‒69) was secretary of war from 1862 to 1868. Born in Steubenville, Ohio, he completed one year at Kenyon College before being forced to leave for financial reasons. He studied law with a local attorney and became a successful lawyer, practicing in Steubenville, Pittsburgh, and eventually Washington, DC, where he served for a time as attorney general in the administration of President James Buchanan. Following the resignation of Lincoln’s first secretary of war, Simon Cameron, Stanton was appointed to the post. He proved to be an administrative genius who cleaned up procurement scandals left over from Cameron and ensured the equipping and provisioning of the vast Union war establishment. Stanton stayed on in his post into the Reconstruction era, but he fell out with President Andrew Johnson over what Stanton saw as the latter’s excessively lenient policies toward the former Confederate states. The image is from an album of mostly Civil War-era portraits by the famous American photographer Matthew Brady (circa 1823‒96) that belonged to Emperor Pedro II of Brazil (1825‒91), a collector of photography as well as a photographer himself. The album was a gift to the emperor from Edward Anthony (1818‒88), another early American photographer who, in partnership with his brother, owned a company that in the 1850s became the leading seller of photographic supplies in the United States. Dom Pedro may have acquired the album during a trip to the United States in 1876 when he, along with President Ulysses S. Grant, opened the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Brady was born in upstate New York, the son of immigrants from Ireland. Best known for his photographs documenting the battles of the American Civil War, he began his career in 1844 when he opened a daguerreotype portrait studio at the corner of Broadway and Fulton Streets in New York City. Over the course of the next several decades, Brady produced portraits of leading American public figures, many of which were published as engravings in magazines and newspapers. In 1858 he opened a branch in Washington, DC. The album, which also contains a small number of non-photographic prints, is part of the Thereza Christina Maria Collection at the National Library of Brazil. The collection is composed of 21,742 photos assembled by Emperor Pedro II throughout his life and donated by him to the national library. The collection covers a wide variety of subjects. It documents the achievements of Brazil and Brazilians in the 19th century and also includes many photographs of Europe, Africa, and North America.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Edward Anthony, New York

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print of a drawing : carte-de-visite, albumen paper ; 8.6 x 5.5 centimeters


  1. William B. Skelton, “Stanton, Edwin McMasters,” in American National Biography (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999).

Last updated: March 22, 2016