Senator Robert Toombs of Georgia


Robert Toombs (1810‒85) was a U.S. senator, Confederate cabinet member, and Confederate general in the American Civil War. Born in Georgia, he studied law in Georgia, New York, and Virginia, and in 1829 opened a law practice in Georgia. He was elected to the Georgia legislature in 1836, to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1844, and to the U.S. Senate in 1852. The son of a planter who had amassed a large fortune in land and slaves, Toombs supported the secession of Georgia from the Union. He was named secretary of state in the cabinet of President Jefferson Davis, but he proved unsuited for the job and resigned to become a general in the Confederate army. A political general with limited military skill or training, he was generally unsuccessful but performed creditably at Antietam (1862). He returned to Georgia after the war but, refusing to seek pardon, he was unable to vote or seek office, and thus was unable to revive his political career. He spent his last years ravaged by alcoholism and blindness. 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


Title in Original Language

Senator Toombs

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : carte-de-visite, albumen paper ; 8.7 x 5.3 centimeters


  1. Michael Chesson, "Toombs, Robert Augustus," in American National Biography (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999).

Last updated: March 22, 2016