Caleb Cushing


Caleb Cushing (1800‒1879) was born in Salisbury, Massachusetts, the son of a shipmaster and merchant. In 1802 he moved with his family to Newburyport, Massachusetts, a town with which he had a lifelong association. He was educated at Harvard College and Harvard Law School, practiced law, wrote several books, and became a close associate of Daniel Webster, a prominent lawyer and future secretary of state. After several unsuccessful tries, Cushing was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1834, where he served four terms. In 1843‒44 he undertook a mission to China, where he negotiated the Treaty of Wanghia (1844), the first bilateral agreement between the United States and China. In addition to holding various state and local posts, he was attorney general of the United States during the presidency of Franklin Pierce, 1853‒57. Although Cushing was, for a Massachusetts politician, relatively sympathetic to the South and its position on the constitutionality of slavery, he backed Lincoln during the Civil War. In 1874 he was appointed minister to Spain by President Ulysses S. Grant, and he held that post until 1877. At different stages of his career Cushing was a Whig, a Democrat, and a Republican. 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: January 8, 2018