Attorney General Edward Bates


Edward Bates (1793‒1869) served as attorney general in the cabinet of President Abraham Lincoln during the early years of the American Civil War. Born in Virginia into a slaveholding family, Bates moved to Maryland, where he enlisted in the militia to fight the British during the War of 1812. At a young age, he moved to the Missouri Territory, where he studied law, developed a successful law practice, and became involved in politics. At age 27 he was elected to the post of attorney general in the new state of Missouri. He later served in the Missouri state legislature and in the U.S. House of Representatives as the sole congressman from the state. In 1854 he became active in opposing the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which repealed the provision of the Missouri Compromise of 1820 banning slavery in territories north of the 36°30' parallel. In the Republican convention of 1860, Bates was a candidate for the nomination but lost to Lincoln. As attorney general, Bates wrote important legal opinions on war issues, including briefs in support of Lincoln’s suspension of the writ of habeas corpus and of the right to seize ships to enforce the Union’s blockade of Southern ports. Bates resigned his position on November 24, 1864, after Lincoln failed to appoint him to the U.S. Supreme Court. 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 : carte-de-visite, albumen paper ; 8.5 x 5.5 centimeters


  1. James M. McPherson, “Bates, Edward,” in American National Biography (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999).

Last updated: January 8, 2018