I noted with interest that a chair given to Matthew Brady by President Lincoln is going on the auction block later this month. I have looked at the above image along with several others and cannot make out if this is indeed the chair. This photograph here is of President Lincoln with son Tad in February 1865. It was taken at Alexander Gardner’s studio. The think is, the article says Lincoln gave the chair to Brady in 1864; by that time Gardner was no longer working for Brady. If anyone knows more, I’d like to hear it.
Anything touched by Lincoln’s hand became beatified after his assassination. People understood the significance of the moment even while it was taking place. What is fascinating is that Brady continued to use the chair in his studio to photograph subjects. Indeed four additional presidents posed with the chair in the ensuing years. One can only speculate the extent to which Johnson, Grant, Hayes, and Garfield were aware of the chair’s import. I thought at first that they were using it in tribute to the Great Emancipator, and to an extent they probably were. However, the article in the Daily Mail notes that others, including Robert E. Lee, sat in Lincoln’s seat as well. That leads one to think it was just another piece of furniture for studio use. Check out the great images here. I may have to visit the auction house before the sale on October 26 to see it for myself. I will report what I learn.
(image/Library of Congress)