Secretary of State Daniel Webster


Daniel Webster (1782‒1852) was an American lawyer, politician, statesman, and orator. Born in New Hampshire to a farm family, he was educated at Dartmouth College and admitted to the bar in Massachusetts in 1805. He served as a congressman from New Hampshire in 1813‒17 and from Massachusetts in 1823‒27 and in the U.S. Senate in 1827‒41 and 1845‒50. He was secretary of state on two occasions, from 1841 to 1843 and from 1850 to 1852. His most notable achievement as secretary was the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842, which settled the border between Maine and New Brunswick, Canada, thereby defusing the threat of war between the United States and Great Britain. Webster also argued many important cases before 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.

Last updated: March 22, 2016