Minister to Mexico Thomas Corwin


Thomas Corwin (1794–1865) was a politician who was famous for his opposition to the Mexican War (1846–48). He was born in Bourbon County, Kentucky, and raised on his family’s farm in Lebanon, Ohio, from 1798. He practiced law in Ohio and was twice elected as state representative. He joined the Whig party in 1830 and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for five consecutive terms, where he consistently supported the fiscal policies of Henry Clay. He was dubbed “the Wagon Boy” and “the Terror of the House” for his ability as an orator. After serving as governor of Ohio for two years in 1840‒42, he was elected to the U.S. Senate and served from 1845 to1850. During the Civil War, he was appointed by President Lincoln as minister to Mexico, where his early opposition to the Mexican War made him popular. He served in that position from 1861 to 1864. 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