Whole Plate Daguerreotype of Lewis Cass

Plate by Mathew Brady (1822-1896). A rare portrait of the aging Cass, probably taken sometime during 1851-52. Inscribed with a stylus on the bottom edge of the plate Hon. Senator Lewis Cass

Cass (1782-1866) soldier, diplomat, statesman, was born in Exeter, New Hampshire. Educated at Exeter Academy, he moved to Marietta, Ohio in 1800 and established a law practice. With the outbreak of the War of 1812, Cass answered the call, joining the Ohio forces in Dayton as an officer in the state militia, and was later appointed Colonel in the regular army and major general of volunteers. He was on the line at the Battle of the Thames, and was appointed Governor of the Michigan Territory, a position he held for 18 years.

In 1831 he was called to serve as President Andrew Jackson's Secretary of War. His tenure in this position was marked by the Black Hawk War as well as negotiations with Indians in Alabama and Georgia. He left this position in 1836 for health reasons, and was named United States Minister to France. In 1845 Cass was elected as a United States Senator from Michigan, and was the Democratic nominee for President of the United States in 1848 and 1852. Cass died in Detroit in 1866.

This plate, along with three other whole-plate portraits of U.S. Supreme Court Justices John Mclean, James Moore Wayne and Levi Woodbury, were purchased at the auction of the estate of Mrs. Galen [Margaret]Green in Washington, D.C. in 1987. How they came to be included in the contents of the sale is not known. Correspondence between Mrs. Green and Thomas A. Waggaman of the U.S. Supreme court in 1947 mentions the images of the justices, but how Green came to acquire the plates will probably never be known.

The daguerreian history of these images seems unambiguous: Cass' portrait, along with those of the justices, was advertised by Mathew Brady in Doggett's New York City Directory for 1851-52 as part of a gallery exhibit of celebrities and famous Americans (see Stapp (1978). The condition of the plate is typical of the Brady whole plate collections at the Library of Congress, and like these images has been identified on both the front and back of the plate with a stylus.

Stapp (ibid: 304) records one known daguerreotype of Cass along with at least three engravings made from daguerreotypes. This plate is not listed, and is presumed to be previously unrecorded. An important image.

Provenance:Purchased from the Estate auction of Mrs. Galen [Margaret T.] Green of Washington, D.C. in March 1987.

Condition:Plate with numerous rubs. Plate electrocleaned and re-housed in archival matting by Heugh-Edmonson Conservation Services, Kansas City, MO.

Estimate: $30,000 - $40,000
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium


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