Photographs Taken of President for Painting of Emancipation Proclamation

April 26, 1864

The irascible Navy Secretary Gideon Welles writes in his diary after the regular Tuesday cabinet meeting: “Photographers from M.B. Brady’s studio work in White House to make stereoscopic studies of Lincoln in his office.”

Neither Chase nor Blair were at the Cabinet to-day nor was Stanton. The course of these men is reprehensible, and yet the President, I am sorry to say, does not reprove but rather encourages it by bringing forward no important measure connected with either. As regards Chase, it is evident he presumes on his position and the condition of the finance to press a point, hoping it may favor his aspirations.

Stanton has a cabinet and is a power in his own Department. He deceives the President and Seward, makes confidants of certain leading men, and is content to have matters move on without being compelled to show his exact position. He is not on good terms with Blair, nor is Chase, which is partly attributable to that want of concert which frequent assemblages and mutual counselling on public measures would secure. At such a time the country should have the combined wisdom of all.

Artist Francis Carpenter recalled that “the day after the review of Burnside’s division, some photographers from Brady’s Gallery came up to the White House to make some stereoscopic studies for me of the President’s office. They requested a dark closet, in which to develop the pictures; and without a thought that I was infringing upon anybody’s rights, I took them to an. unoccupied room of which little ” Tad” had taken possession a few days before, and with the aid of a couple of the servants, had fitted up as a miniature theatre, with stage, curtains, orchestra, stalls, parquette, and all. Knowing that the use required would interfere with none of his arrangements, I led the way to this apartment.

Everything went on well, and one or two pictures had been taken, when suddenly there was an uproar. The operator came back to the office, and said that “Tad” had taken great offence at the occupation of his room without his consent, and had locked the door, refusing all admission. The chemicals had been taken inside, and there was no way of getting at them, he having carried off the key. In the midst of this conversation, ” Tad” burst in, in a fearful passion. He laid all the blame upon me, — said that I had no right to use nis room, and that the men should not go in even to get their things. He had locked the door, »nd they should not go there again — ” they had no business in his room!” Mr. Lincoln had been sitting for a photograph, and was still in the chair. He said, very mildly, ” Tad, go and unlock the door.” Tad went off muttering into his mother’s room, refusing to obey. I followed him into the passage, but no coaxing would pacify him. Upon my return to the President, I found him still sitting patiently in the chair, from which he had not risen. He said: “Has not the boy opened that door?” I replied that we could do nothing with him, — he had gone off in a great pet. Mr. Lincoln’s lips came together firmly, and then, suddenly rising, he strode across the passage with the air of one bent on punishment, and disappeared in the domestic apartments. Directly he returned with the key to the theatre, which he unlocked himself. – ” There,” said he, ” go ahead, it is all right now.” He then went back to his office, followed by myself, and resumed his seat. “Tad,” said he, half apologetically, “is a peculiar child. He was violently excited when I went to him. I said, ‘Tad, do you know you are making your father a great deal of trouble?’ He burst into tears, instantly giving me up the key.”

Another irascible man, New York Tribune Editor Horace Greeley: “I thank you heartily for your note of yesterday. I shall of course publish the enclosure to-morrow” refuting allegations that President Lincoln’s Confederate sister-in-law, Martha Todd White, had received special treatment on her return to Alabama. “Please send me any thing of public interest you may at any time have to publish. Though I am an earnest one-term man, I want to publish all the truth I can get and as few falsehoods as possible.”

New Yorker H. L. Williams writes President Lincoln seeking government assistance: “I have for some time intended to compile a Book, on “The Negro as a Soldier.” But I find that to produce such a work properly it would be necessary to visit and remain for a brief period in Paris, France.”

Published in: on April 26, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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