Edwin McMasters Stanton was Linclon's Secretary of War, taking office during the second year of the War. Stanton was one of Lincoln's most important advisers, second only to Secretary od State Seward. He also served under President Johnson, although Johnson attemoted to fire him, igniting the impeachment crisis. Stanton was born in Steubenville, Ohio (1814). He attended Kenyon College and was admitted to the bar (1835). He specializing in patent law, contract law, and and title issues and developed a national reputation as one of the country's preeminent trial lawyers. He headed a team of lawyers that challenged Cyrus Hall McCormick’s patent of the mechnical reaper. A local lawyer was added to the team--Abrham Lincoln. Stanton and the other big city lawyer wanted nothing to do with Lincoln who was seen as local yokle. Stanton was quoted as saying, "Why did you bring that damned long armed ape here? He does not know anything." It is a measure of Lincoln's character that he would choose men like Stanton for his cabinet. Stanton like others Lincoln chose at first looked down on him, but soon realised his unique abilities. Stanton was often adifficult person to work with. He was often brusqe and did not mince words. He was, however, a capable manager and scruposly honest. He proved to be a highly capable mnager of the enmense Federal war effort. After the war, President bJohnson kept him on as Secretary of War. Stanton came to noppose the soft policies advicated by President Johnson to bring the Confederate states back into the Union. Johnson's attempt to fire Stanton led to the Presiudent's impeachment by the House of Representatives abd trial in the Senate.
Stanton was born in Steubenville, Ohio (1814).
He attended Kenyon College and was admitted to the bar (1835).
He specializing in patent law, contract law, and and title issues and developed a national reputation as one of the country's preeminent trial lawyers. He headed a team of lawyers that challenged Cyrus Hall McCormick’s patent of the mechnical reaper. A local lawyer was added to the team--Abrham Lincoln. Stanton and the other big city lawyer wanted nothing to do with Lincoln who was seen as local yokle. Stanton was quoted as saying, "Why did you bring that damned long armed ape here? He does not know anything." As president, Lincoln recalled being 'roughly handled by that man Stanton'.
It is a measure of Lincoln's character that he would choose men like Stanton for his cabinet. Stanton made legal history just before the Civil War. He becamne the first U.S. lawyer to successfully use temporary insanity defense. He used it to defend his client and personal friend, future Federal general Daniel Sickles. Sickles had shot and killed his wife’s lover, the son of Francis Scott Key.
Stanton exoperienced a gret deal of tragedy in his persoal life. Edwin Stanton married Mary Lamson (1836). It was a loving marriage ab Stntin was devited tonhis wife. They had two children: Lucy Lamson Stanton (1837-41) and Edwin Lamson Stanton (1842- ). The new couple built a house in Cadiz, Ohio, where Stanton began his law practice. His wife Mary died (1844). He was left to raise a young son on his own. Stanton went into a deep depression. Stanton's brother Darwin committed suisud by cutting his own throat (1846). These tragedues seemed to bave fundamentally changed Stanton's disposition. His hearty good humor was lost and a brusque, often rude, disposition emerged. He moved to Pittsburgh, and emersed himself in his legal career. He became recognized as possessing va sharp legal mind combined withb the reputation as a ferocious litigator. We know very little about the relationship between Stahton and his son Edwin. The Daguerrotype portrait here, however, suggests alevelmof intimacy not often seen in early photography.
Stanton was a staunch Democrat, but a unionist. It was Democratic President James Buchanan who brought Santon into the cabinet in the cfinal days of his filed administration (Decembr 1860). President Buchanan with thecelection of Lincoln was alane duck president and at the time the new president vdid not take power until March. Buchanan was clearly a failed president. Tgere ere charges of corruption and the Southern states began to seceed. Stanton unlike thePresident denounced secession in the stringest terms. He convinced Buchanan not to surrender Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. Stanton was one of thecfew string vioices in Washington as the secession crisis developed. When Lincoln was inagurated, Stanton returned to private practice. His clients included Simon Cameron, the newcSecretarybof War and Gen. George B. McClellan, who would command of the Army of the Potomac. Stanton criticized President bLincoln and the new Republican Administration as the secesion crisis careened into civil war. He decribd th 'the imbecility of this administration' in private conversation.
President Lincoln chose Simon Cameron as his secretary of war. It proved to be cone of his worst choices.
Secretary Cameron proved to be incompetennt. His integrity was questioned. The War Department was an almost limitless source of potntil frud becuseof all the contract being let. Cameron also had no political sence. He bagan taklking about arming the slaves. This woukd have driven the bordr states intothe Confedercy whichwoukd had been distrous for the Union. Lincoln quickly ppointed him ambssador to Russia, as fr as he coukd get him from Wahington.
President Lincoln chose Stanton to replace Canmeron as Secretary of War (January 1862). Despite his earlier experience with Stanton, Lincoln repected him. Stanton had auick mind, his integrity was beyond dispute, and most importantly was a strong unionist. Even Stanton's Democratic politics had political benefits for the new Adninistration.
Stanton’s drive and administrative skills were jut what the War Department despeately needed. Twonmore different individuals could scarely be imagined. Stanton was short, well educated, brusque tobthecpoint of rudeness, and highly secretive. Lincoln was tall, had no fornal education, and and open, engaging personality. Somehow the two developed a close working relationship of emense benefit to the Federal war effort. Stanton like others Lincoln chose at first looked down on him, but soon realised his unique abilities. Stanton was often adifficult person to work with. Stanton was not a soothing voice in the Cabinet, He often clashed withb other cabinet officers. He spoke his mind and did not mince words, not uncommonly offending his colleagues. He was, however, a highly capable manager and scruposly honest. Lincoln came to trust Stahtin completely. The Oresident was able to devote his energies to largr mattrs rather than geting involved in the complicated bureaucratic complications and involved contractual issues the War Department had to deal with.
Secretary Statin made a series of controversial, but in retrospect siound decesions. He modified the War Department’s harsh policies towards political prisoners. He opposed General McClellan’s continued service. He made a serious error hen he ordered recruiting offices closed, believing that the Federal forces were about to win the War and end the rebellion (April 1862). This slowed the flow of needed recruits as the war entered its second year and the Army of the Potomac would suffer serious reverses.
Popular actor John Wlikes Booth, with southern sympathies plotted to nkidnap President Lincoln. This became a plot go kill the President on the even of theFederl victory. The Booth asasination plot targetted President Lincoln, General Grant, Vice President Johnson, and Secretary of State Steward. Booth ftally shot the Presiudentbvin Ford's Theater (April 14). Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles and Stanton came and took charge of the room that Lincln was broughtv to accross fronm Ford's Theater. Stanton ordered Mrs. Licoln, who was hysterical, out of the room. He uttered the most memorable words of that sad day. Stanton his face covered with tears, 'He belongs to the ages."
Stanton continud as Secretary of War. Stanton came to oppose the soft policies advicated by President Johnson to bring the Confederate states back into the Union. The relationship between the two became jncreasingly acrimonious. Stanton thus became deply involved in the fight between the Presiudent and Congress over Reconstruction. The Republican Congress attempted to protect Stanton's position as Secretary of War (early 1867). .
They passed the Tenure of Office Act. This prohibited the president from dismissing government officials appointed with the advice of the Senate without their consent. Johnson defied the Congress and suspended Stanton (August 12, 1867).
The President temporarily replaced Staton with Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. An attempt to impeach the OPresidentbin the House failed (December 1867). The Senate failed to acceot Stabntin suspebsion abnd he was reinstalled in iffice (January 1868). The President then fire him, but Stanton barricaded himself in his office. The House renewed the impeachment
proceedings and voted a Bill of Impeachment. A sensational trial followed in the Senate. A compromise was brokered. The Senate
failed by one vote to convict the President of high crimes amd misdomenors. Gen. John Schofield finally replaced
Stanton as Secretaryb of war.
Stnbtin after six and a half years in one of the mostb important posts in Government was again a private citizen. As a result of that service he was one of the most respected individuals in the country. He attempted to resume his law practice. President Grantv nominated him to the Supreme Court. The Sente confirmed the nomination (December 20). Stanton died 3 days later.
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