Senator William Lowndes Yancey of Alabama, Confederate States of America


William Lowndes Yancey (1814–63) was a member of the U.S. Congress from 1844 to 1846 and a Confederate senator and diplomat during the American Civil War. He was an outspoken secessionist and critic of fellow Democrat Stephen A. Douglas, who championed what was known as popular sovereignty, the view that the voters of each territory should determine whether it entered the Union as a free or a slave state. Yancey’s opposition caused a schism among Northern and Southern Democrats, which came to a head at the Democratic National Convention of 1860, when the Southern delegates walked out of the convention and nominated a rival ticket. Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, Yancey was sent to England and France by Confederate president Jefferson Davis to seek international recognition of the Confederacy. Like other Confederate envoys, he was not able to accomplish this objective. He was elected to the first Senate of the Confederacy in 1862 and died the following year before completing his term. 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 30, 2016