Howell Cobb, President of the Provisional Confederate States Congress


Howell Cobb (1815–68) was president of the Provisional Confederate Congress and was a Confederate general in the American Civil War. Born in Jefferson County, Georgia, he studied law and was admitted to the bar. He was a member of the U.S. Congress from 1843 to 1851. After serving two years as governor of Georgia, he was elected to Congress for another term and then became secretary of the treasury in the administration of President James Buchanan. The election of President Abraham Lincoln in 1860 precipitated Cobb’s shift from Union Democrat to secessionist. He resigned from Buchanan’s cabinet and, from February to November 1861, headed the Provisional Confederate Congress. As a general, he led a brigade in the Peninsular Campaign and the Seven Days’ Battles of 1862. In 1863 he was promoted to major general and took command of the District of Georgia and Florida. He surrendered to Union forces on April 20, 1865 in Macon, Georgia. 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

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 photographic print : carte-de-visite, albumen paper ; 8.6 x 5.5 centimeters


  1. Paul G. Pierpaoli, Jr., “Cobb, Howell,” in Spencer C. Tucker, editor, American Civil War: The Definitive Encyclopedia and Document Collection (Santa Barbara, C.A.: ABC-CLIO, 2013).

Last updated: March 30, 2016