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Edwin Stanton - Lincoln's Secretary of War

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Edwin McMasters Stanton was the Secretary of War in the Lincoln administration during the Civil War. He also served under Johnson who had a much more cautious view on civil rights. Due to their differing views Johnson ultimately fired Stanton which nearly got Johnson impeached. When Lincoln died it was Stanton who uttered the immortal words "Now He Belongs to the Ages."


Edwin Stanton was born on December 19, 1814, in Steubenville, Ohio. His father was a member of the Society of Friends, and his mother was a Methodist. They both despised slavery and instilled this belief in their son. At the age of twelve Stanton joined the Methodist Church.


Both of Stanton's parents stressed education, but Stanton's father died in 1827. Stanton was forced to leave school to help support his mother. He assisted his mother in operating a general store in Steubenville. In 1828, Stanton became a clerk at a local bookstore. Stanton tutored himself by reading many of the books in the store.


He went on to become a lawyer and argued his first case in court before he reached the age of twenty-one.


Following the resignation of Simon Cameron as Secretary of War in January 1862, Lincoln appointed Stanton to the office. Stanton accepted and became one of Lincoln's closest advisors during the American Civil War. Lincoln respected Stanton's opinion and took many of his suggestions to heart. He even encouraged Lincoln to arm the slaves, a key decision in the war effort.


Lincoln once stated, "So great is my confidence in Stanton's judgment and patriotism that I never wish to take an important step without first consulting him." It was Stanton who suggested that Lincoln make Ulysses S. Grant commander of all Union armies. When Lincoln died in April 1865, Stanton was regarded as the informal president of the United States until Andrew Johnson was sworn into office.


Stanton did not have a close relationship with Andrew Johnson. Stanton strongly supported civil rights legislation and Johnson was much more cautious on this issue. Johnson demanded Stanton's resignation, but the Secretary of War refused. Johnson fired Stanton in 1867. Johnson's actions angered many members of the Congress of the United States. Congress had approved the Tenure of Office Act, which required the president to have Congressional approval before removing cabinet officers. The act had been designed to protect Stanton. The House of Representatives impeached the president. The Senate then debated whether or not to remove Johnson from office. In a vote of thirty-five to remove the president and nineteen opposed, Johnson remained president. The vote fell one vote short of having the necessary number to remove Johnson. Hearing of the Senate's decision, Stanton immediately resigned as Secretary of War on May 26, 1868.


Stanton returned to private life but remained active in politics. He actively campaigned for Ulysses S. Grant in the presidential election of 1868. Upon taking office, Grant appointed Stanton to the United States Supreme Court. Before Stanton could take office, he died on December 24, 1869.


Today i'm featuring two notes portraying Stanton.


First the 1890 $1 treasury fr. 349 PCGS 65 PPQ. With its beautifully intricate and ornate reverse, these 'fancybacks' are always a favorite among collectors.






Second is the 1891 $1 treasury fr. 351 PMG 67 EPQ. PMG has graded 3 Fr. 351's at this level, with none higher.





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