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..

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