Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts


Charles Sumner (1811−74) was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1851 as a member of the Free-Soil Party, which he had helped to found to oppose the extension of slavery into newly acquired U.S. territories. A forceful orator, Sumner campaigned tirelessly for the abolition of slavery. He gained particular fame in May 1856 when he was assaulted on the floor of the Senate by Congressman Preston Brooks of South Carolina, whose cousin, Senator Andrew P. Butler of South Carolina, Sumner had lambasted over southern efforts to extend slavery into the territory of Kansas. Sumner took years to recover from the beating he received from Brooks. Sumner remained in the Senate after the Civil War. During the Reconstruction era he favored a harsh policy toward the South and campaigned for the establishment of full equality and civil rights for emancipated slaves. 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