Ok. So, he’s not exactly standing next to Abraham Lincoln but he is standing next to Abe’s picture on the binding of a very well known book of the time. The title of the volume is “Giants of The Republic”. The book was written by a “Corps of Competent Biographers” and covers the “lives, deeds and personal traits of eminent men and women” in American history. Some of the subjects profiled are Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, Charles Sumner, William Sherman, Robert Fulton, John Jacob Astor, and Edgar Alan Poe. The well dressed gentleman in this cabinet card photograph must have thought that the book had historic potential or at the least, was worth remembering. It is unusual to see someone posing with a specific book title (unless its the bible). The book in this photograph is clearly meant to play a prominent role in the photograph. The photographer of this cabinet card is G. H. McElroy of Hayward, Wisconsin.


Benjamin Wade: American Civil War Senator and Anti Slavery Figure (Photographed by Matthew Brady)

ben-wadeBenjamin Wade (1800-1878)) was born in Massachusetts. He worked as a laborer on the Erie Canal, taught school and then studied and practiced law in Ohio. As a member of the Whig Party he was elected to the Ohio State Senate and served two terms. He later became an Ohio court judge. Wade joined the Republican Party and in 1851 was elected to the US Senate. He became a Radical Republican along with Thaddeus Stevens and Charles Sumner. He fouhgt against the Fugitive Slave Act and the Kansas-Nebraska Act. He was very radical and supported women suffrage, trade union rights and equality for African Americans. In 1861 as chairman of the Committee on Territories he witnessed the defeat of the Union Army at the First Bull Run and was nearly captured by the confederates. During the American Civil War, Wade was extremely critical of Lincoln. After the war he pushed for African American units in the Regular Army. He was also instrumental in the impeachment of American President Andrew Johnson. Wade was considered by some as a good choice for Ulysses S Grant’s running mate but Grant refused. This cabinet card is from Matthew Brady’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C..