GENERAL HORACE PORTER, CIVIL WAR HERO, PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR, AND DIPLOMAT


The subject of this cabinet card was a victim of mistaken identity. The gentleman in this image was identified as the ninth Governor of the state of Pennsylvania, David R. Porter. The previous owner of this photograph made the identification. After I purchased the card, I did some research and learned that David Porter was born in 1788 and died in 1867. The style of this photograph originated long after Porter’s death and I became upset at myself for beginning the identity confirmation process after paying for the photograph rather than before making the purchase. I had violated one of my basic rules for purchasing photographs of famous people. Fortunately, this story has a happy ending. Further research determined that the subject of the photograph is actually David Porter’s son, Horace Porter, who also was quite an accomplished man. The reverse of the photograph has an inscription “Amb. Porter” and this was the lead I followed to make the correct identity. The whole process was a bit of an emotional roller coaster. I went from feeling foolish, as well as angry at the previous owner’s unintentional incorrect identification; to feeling happy about identifying the subject as a man who played an integral part in American history. Horace Porter (1837-1921) is most well known for his activities during the civil war. He served as a Lieutenant Colonel, Ordnance Officer, and Staff Officer in the Union Army. In 1866 he was appointed brevet Brigadier General in the U. S. Army. He was also personal secretary to General and President Ulysses S. Grant and to General William Sherman. Later, he was the Vice President of th Pullman Palace Car Company and the United States ambassador to France (1897-1905). Horace Porter was born in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. As stated earlier, he was the son of David R. Porter who who served as Pennsylvania’s Governor. His cousin, Andrew Porter was a Mexican-American War veteran and Union Army Brigadier General. Horace Porter was educated at Harvard University and graduated from West Point in 1860. He was distinguished in the Battle of Fort Pulaski (Georgia), Chickamauga, the Battle of the Wilderness, and New Market Heights. He received the Medal of Honor for his efforts at Chickamauga. He later wrote a memoir “Campaigning With Grant” (1897). The name of the photographer of this image is uncertain. It is difficult to decipher his printed name on the bottom of this photograph.  Owners of other images produced by this photographer refer to him as “Pessford”.  The script on the photograph could also be interpreted as “Bessford”.  There was a photographer in Hudson, Wisconsin listed by the 1880 census as James Bessford, but no evidence could be found linking him to this photograph. POSTNOTE: The photographer has been identified by a cabinet card gallery visitor as Joseph G. Gessford. Check out this entry’s comment section for the visitor’s informative and interesting  contribution.

CHARLES J. FOLGER: SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY UNDER PRESIDENT CHESTER ARTHUR

UThis cabinet card features Charles James Folger (1818-1884) who was an American lawyer and politician. He served as Secretary of the Treasury under President Chester Arthur. Folger was born in Nantucket, Massachusetts but lived most of his life in Geneva, New York. He attended Hobart College. His political career includes judgeships and some terms in the New York State Senate (1862-1869). While in the state senate, he served four years as President Pro Tempore. In 1869 he left state government after being appointed by President Ulysses Grant as the Assistant U.S. Treasurer. In 1870, he became a judge of the New York Court of Appeals and eventually became the Chief Judge. H eft the judgeship in 1881  to serve as Secretary of the Treasury, and during that tenure, he ran for Governor in New York against future U.S. President, Grover Cleveland. Folger had many accomplishments and he has just added a new honor to his legacy. Folger’s wonderful muttonchops, qualifies him to join the facial hair elite in the category of “Beards (Only the Best)”. Click on the category to view unusual styles of facial hair. This portrait was photographed by Falk, a well known New York City, celebrity photographer. To view other photographs by Falk, click on the category “Photographer: Falk”. A stamp on the reverse of  this cabinet card reveals that it was formerly owned by Culver Pictures of New York City, New York. Culver Pictures has been collecting photographs and illustrations from the 19th and first half of the 20th century, since 1926. These pictures are used in books, films, and other forms of media. At the time that this cabinet card was stamped by the company, Culver Pictures was located in New York City.

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..