Thursday, April 4, 2013

May 1865 Humphrey's Journal of the Daguerreotype & Photographic Arts

The most powerful man in the country during those monstrous days in April, 1865, stared across his desk at me.  His black eyes unwavering and dead.  "Sir, I know all about this assertion of yours, 'historical documentation'.  These photographs..." he looked down at them spread across his desk before continuing and refocusing his attention on me "for you, this is merely a matter of trade."

My heart sank and the dull sound of each beat erupted into that of a clanging bell inside my head.  From my peripherary I saw Ben's movement in his chair, a nervous resettling.  Blessedly, he found the presence of mind to hold his tongue.

There was a saying back then.  A warning to all who lived during the time when habeas corpus was suspended.  It was; Stanton's men come for you in the night.  Simply uttering his name in conversation brought a quiet pause of contemplation and fear.  Edwin Stanton was not simply the Secretary of War, he decided one's liberty if not their longevity.  Edwin Stanton never trifled and he was not a man to trifle with.

Edwin M. Stanton Carte de Visite
author's collection

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