tv The Civil War CSPAN January 10, 2015 6:00pm-6:54pm EST
the right to be elected, the right to govern. it is a scene in the south carolina legislature where there first and primary order of his this is to pass a bill allowing for interracial marriage. again, in griffith's hands, black men are solely interested in pursuing and having white women. ♪ >> the controversial story behind the birth of the nation, sunday night at 8:00 eastern and pacific on c-span's "q&a." >> robert wilson author of "matthew brady, portraits of the nation," talks about brady's photography before the civil war
and how it changed in the following years. he also talks about the difference in subject matter and composition between brady and other photographers at the time. this hour-long event was part of the lincoln forum's annual similar symposium in gettysburg, pennsylvania. >> thank you for having me. it's a pleasure to be here again. our first speaker this morning robert wilson, the author of a new well-received book on matthew brady. mr. wilson has written for many prominent newspapers and journals and held editorial posts at many of those same institutions. he's currently editor of "the american scholar." he's written two previous books as well as "a certain somewhere: writers on the place they remember." he'll be talking about matthew brady today. brady is an interesting character. we've all looked at dozens, probably hundreds of brady's photographs. i suspect many of you join me
having not known much about matthew brady, the man himself who took much of these photographs. he not only captured history but also shaped it. we'll talk about the 1860 photograph of abraham lincoln and 1864 photographs of abraham lincoln that not only shaped history but captured it as well. mr. wilson will talk about his story of trying to recapture matthew brady. it's a tough thing to do. brady didn't leave much in the way of writings. a few letters, few diaries. brady. it's a tough thing to do. gnat thou brady didn't leave much in the way of writings. a few letters, few diaries. it's a tough nut to crack to figure out what was going on with brady, what stories he was trying to get across, how intentional he was in the art he was trying to create. hopefully after the first hour we'll know more about that. please join me in welcoming mr. wilson to the stage.
thank you for that thank you for that great introduction. thanks, too, to harold holtzer for inviting me here today and for other kindnesses. thanks to all of you have given the warm welcome my wife martha and me the last day we've been here. it occurred to me to write about matthew brady about a decade ago as i was finishing my first book, a biography of a 19th century explorer named clarence king. after the civil war, king had led one of the important scientific missions of the west and was the first person to incorporate photography into that sort of study. he chose a man to accompany him, timothy o. sullivan who then worked with king on the survey for three years.
he had been a protege of matthew brady, quite possibly meeting him in the 1850s as a boy living on staten island where brady had a home while running a photographic portrait gallery in manhattan. as i read about o'sullivan, i realized there was no first-rate biography of matthew brady, who i thought deserved one. here's a flattering painting of mr. brady from mr. holtzer's museum. how little i knew was accurate even though i spent a year reading enough to write a proposal for the book. it should have struck me, given the industry of scholars and of journalists such as myself, that if there was not a good book about such an important figure there might be a reason why. in fact, there are two good reasons.
one is that for someone who was in the public eye for half a century, he left only a lightly marked trail, as jarod mentioned. this was true even though the name became a brand for both portrait photography and civil war photography. and he knew everyone who mattered in this time, including some of the most prominent journalists. and he was dedicated to making photography a medium for the recording of history. he did not keep a journal or a memoir, only a handful of letters and spoke about his career in detail to a few journalists and friends only late in life. when the natural tendency of many people is to embroidery the past, as i'm reaching late in life status, i understand that phenomenon. this is a sketch that was done of brady by an artist and sculptor names james kelly.
brady stopped into his studio on the southeast corner of washington square in new york and kelly was up on a -- kind of up on a ladder working on a model for a sculpture and he came down, drew the sketch handed it to imprad. -- brady, and brady signed it. there aren't a lot of examples of brady's signature. handed it back and said something like, you better my boys, meaning he'd done a better likeness than all the photographers who worked for brady might have done. this lack of primary sources is one reason such a central cultural figure of his time has no good biography. the second reason is in the years since his death, this pausety of fact have led some to go beyond's brady own embroidery to pure speculation and fabrication. one of the things i thought i knew about brady that were wrong.
the first is what almost everyone thinks they know about him. that he was not just a civil war photographer, but he was in some sense the civil war photographer. that he himself managed to take all those photographs we have become familiar with in the past few years as the 150th anniversary of the war has rolled along. it's true we see a number of the same photographs again and again. this one became a u.s. postal stamp of the 150th anniversary of the battle of geties burg. and this one was one of the first photographs of the dead in warfare ever taken. confederate bodies gathered for burial after the 1862 battle of anteitam.
it's possible one man could have scurried around and taken all of the photographs especially since there are few photographs. none of the photographs or photos he took survived the day. they were probably survived in the panic retreat of the union army. he did have this heroic photograph of himself made in his washington studio the next day. several publication including "the new york times" wrongly reported or at least strongly implied he brought photographs back from the battlefield.
after bull run where he could be forgiven for having been spooked by his proximity to live ammunition, he stayed miles away from any battlefield for almost two years. when he traveled to gettysburg about a dozen days after the fighting had ended. then there was another lapse after cold harbor in virginia and the beginnings of the stalemate in petersburg in june 1864 when he was back in the field. that's basically it. although he did go to richmond after appomattox in 1865 and succeeded in taking photographs of robert e. lee soon after he had returned from the war to the house where mrs. lee was living. and within a few days of lincoln's death. i thought a lot about why lee posed for the famous photographs. he apparently agreed almost the instant he returned to richmond. you can imagine how weary he must have felt in every single
way, and his son wrote later there's nothing he liked so little as having his photograph made. but lincoln died the day that lee returned to richmond. and i suspect there was some sense that he had some sense of responsibility to present that calm visage at this dangerous time in the nation's history. i'm sure you're all familiar with these photographs. this particular one where the -- part of the door behind him makes him look like christ on the cross, had some resonance in the south for years afterwards.
still as many as 10,000 civil war photographs are attributed to brady or his studio, how can that be? here's where things get a bit complicated. brady began his career early in the degara type air remarks opening a portrait studio on lower broadway in 1844 just below city hall park. and across fulton street, street of st. paul's chapel. this is right near the world trade center site. this was only five years after the de garrett type process had been introduced in paris. a busy photo gallery like brady's became, required a lot of workers. the metal plates on which the images appeared needed to be buffed and treated. and after the prepared plate was exposed, the image was fixed. washed in a gold solution and possibly hand-colored and framed in a leather case. different people performed each of these tasks and a later brady studio had as many as 25 employees.
the person who took the photograph was generally not brady himself but someone called an operator, the man who operated the camera. brady owned and ran the business, hired the workers, made all the aesthetic and technical choices and often greeted his customers and escorted them to a position in front of the camera, putting them at their ease and setting up the photo. early in his career, he decided he wanted to specialize in images of well-known people so he spent a lot of time in pursuit of them. this is a picture of the great british scientist, michael faraday that brady got in london in 1851.
you are probably familiar with the surfaces are very -- are very easy to actually rub off. i kind of love the way this picture has aged. i think it's quite beautiful in that regard. the degarrett types made in his gallery, it was a gallery because he also placed his images of the famous in a reception room were known as photos by brady. this is a rendering of a later studio brady had. so, his name became his brand. he was often called brady of broadway and his product, the photographs made by his workers, were known by his name. in a business context this is pretty easy to understand. businesses are generally named
for their owner but the owner is not always personally responsible for everything the business introduces. in a photography context where we think of a photographer as the person behind the camera this is less easy to understand and it's led to charges that brady took credit in a deceptive way for work his employees performed. by the time the civil war began, brady had been operating galleries for 17 years. in addition to the ones in new york, he was now on broadway and tenth street. he had an 1858 opened a business in washington, located on pennsylvania avenue between sixth and seventh. his goal had become within his first three years on broadway to take photographs not just of famous people but of every important american. and almost everyone, it seemed had posed for his camera. he had kept up with the rapid changes in technology and had even innovated a few. and was now taking studio portraits beautifully printed on paper, often in large sizes and expensive, but also mass produced calling card sized photographs or stereo graphs what we call 3-d photo. a similar process on glass called ambra type was still in use. here's an ambra type taken of
john c. fremont. but for the most part, brady was now creating negatives on glass in a variety of formats that could be used to make an unlimited number of paper prints. probably the most important photograph brady ever took was of abraham lincoln in 1860 when he gave his famous cooper union speech, which made him a viable presidential candidate. this was widely produced and after lincoln saw brady again when he arrived in washington for the inauguration, lincoln supposedly said, brady and the cooper institute made me president. brady seems to be the only source for this quotation. so make of it what you will.
i think it's undeniable and others said as well, that this image was -- did have an impact. after the southern states seceded, volunteer state militia units flooded into washington to protect the capitol to what was to be an imminent attack by the rebels. they often went to the brady studio on to have a portrait made to send back home. i feel like i'm losing on "jeopardy!" by not using my clicker. brady began to send operators into the field to amount to studio portraits out of doors. part of brady's impulse was that the civil war was a big subject, history would want to know about.
a continuation of his long-time goal to photograph people who would be interesting in history. these camp-like -- brady had several teams out taking pictures before the war began. after bull run, this practice continued and some of his men who became famous in their own right, his washington gallery manager alexander gardner, timothy sullivan and others began working for the u.s. army, photocopying maps and orders and helping with top graphical engineers help with spots for camps, hospitals and other infrastructures. as they served the army they continued in brady's employ sending him more photographs for his growing war collection. after the rebels abandoned manassas in the spring of 1862 brady sent his men out to take photographs of the famous sites from the first battle there, but these images were not particularly interesting as photographs.
probably the most significant pictures taken at this time were the so-called quacker guns at centreville centreville. logs made to look like cannon which were to persuade the lvr already timid mcclelland not to attack. i love the way -- you know there's such a wonderful spirit of fun in so many of these civil war pictures and these guy here pretending to light the fake can is an example of that. many pictures taken around washington before the war had people, you know, making human pyramids and doing silly things like that. obviously, they didn't know what was to come. this picture was taken by george barnard. barnard and james gibson, who also had illustrious careers throughout the war, took these pictures together.
one of them, james gibson, accompanied mcclelland's army on the peninsula campaign where he took a number of the first seminal photographs of the year. this is a -- this is a stereograph. you can see the image begins to repeat itself. this is a hospital camp at savage's station. harp harry potterers weekly brings this. how patiently and still they lie, these brave men who bleed and are maimed for us. it is a picture which is more elegant than the sternest speech. so brady sold these photographs his men took. he also copied and added to his collection that others had
taken. some of which he appropriated with permission and some of which he did not. copies photos to which he had no legitimate claim is hard to defend but in fairness, it was commonly done. by any means available brady accumulated images from the civil war and the providence of many of them is not known and probably never will be. his competitors were less happy about this as we are today and there were squabbles over who owned or had taken what. because brady kept the collection together long after the war and even managed to sell a part of it to the government we have him to thank for the vastness of the photographic record of the war that has come down to us. it ought to be said that almost every photographer of the war worked for brady at one time or another. when late in life he told a reporter that i had men in all parts of the army, like a rich newspaper. that phrase "a rich newspaper"
has to make you chuckle today. it wasn't true in the sense that these men were all working for him at the same time. but in some sense they still were, at least in his mind his men. so brady was not the photographer of the civil war. i mentioned i had other misconceptions about him even after i read a few amount. some had grown out of what i've been talking about and did not come from writers looking to make a good story but from scholars and curators. plus there was brady's suspicious enintraneural zeal. phinneaus t. barnum.
barnum's american museum was across the street from the fulton studio. if brady was a huckster then he was no artist. i find this pretty foolish but effects linger today in public collections who curators are reluctant to attribute photographs that are clearly to him and sometimes they attribute them to his studio. -- sometimes they won't even attribute them to his studio. but this is changing. what i would like to do is hint at the case i made in the book that brady was not only a photographer but a conscious artist. a person who did not just oversee the taking of pictures but often had a real idea of what he was doing. one of the things that intrigued people about photography in its first decades is that it seemed like a completely mechanical art form. degarrett types were often
referred to as sun paintings because the images appeared not by the hand of an artist but by the work of light passing through the mechanism of a camera. in a world increasingly under the sway of science, photography was the first objective medium of art. brady's first connection to the world outside, rural upstate new york, where he spent his childhood, was a charismatic young painter named william paige, a protege of samuel morris, the inventor of the telegraph, also a well known portrait painter of his day. this is a picture of morse that brady took in the 1850s. brady sometimes claimed.
he was at least on the fringe of artistic circles of new york. the sorts of portraits he himself began to take undoubtedly owed a debt to portrait painting. in the poses, the backgrounds -- the back drops and the lighting, and by the late 1850s brady was specializing in what he called brady imperials, large size portrait prints on salt paper that like degarrett type hs a gold wash and then were often hand painted. this is a portrait of a sculptor named harriet hosmer. it wasn't colored but you can see that her jacket and on her hat, the ribbon on her hat, were inked, enhanced with black ink to make it more dramatic. three photographs brady took more than 150 years ago at gettysburg speak explessicitly to this question of whether photography is mechanical process.
between the battle of anteitam where gardner had taken images of the dead that brady displayed in his broadway gallery and gettysburg, gardner set up his own business around the corner from brady in washington and taken with him many of brady's best photographers, including timothy oh sullivan and james f. gibson. on the afternoon of july 5th two days after the fighting had stopped. the three photographers approached from the south on a road passing by a farm where the dead had not yet been buried and
as gardner and gibson had at antietam, the three began taking photographs of unberried confederates. the three men spent 48 hours on the battlefield, taking about 60 images. three-fourths of which were of lifeless bodies or other aspects of the horrors of war. brady did not arrive for another week and he and his men did not start taking photographs until july 15th. by then almost all the bodies had been buried and the most visible signs of battle had been cleaned up. the battlefield was returning to the placid rural scene it had been two weeks before. because his men and gardner's had crossed paths, brady knew gardner had beat him to the story, so what was he to do? perhaps it wasn't even a question for brady. these two men had very different sensibilities. gardner was more journalistic, and brady's, although he was a businessman was more artistic. brady had gotten some attention for his dead at antietam exhibit, where he exhibited gardner's and gibson's photographs later in new york.
but he himself was not drawn to images of the dead or to other sorts of pictures that showed the price of war. for instance, he took this -- he took the famous photograph at gettysburg we saw earlier of three confederate prisoners, but not only is the image beautifully composed, it shows them looking anything but defeated. the most remarkable thing brady did at gettysburg is take a series of photographs in which he himself appears. images where the viewer is literally looking over his soldier as he couldn't plates the now quiet place where the battle had raged. i'll just show you these three and scroll back and forth among them. he and his men made 36 photographs in all. brady appears in at least six of them.
these photographs are far less dramatic than gardner's but i argue in my book they are more interesting as photographs that are clear preference today for the drama of gardner's photographs was not matched by people at the time they were taken. all three of these images have captions linking them to one of the most important early events of the three-day battle. the death of major john f. reynolds thought to be the union's best general. a pennsylvanian who was largely responsible for the union's engagement of general lee's, reynolds was shot from his horse in a wooded area on the first day of the battle, dying instantly from a head wound. this event was sufficiently well known that several of these pictures have kind of fake -- or have captions that suggest they're looking at places where either reynolds fell or died and they're not really true. those are -- those captions are
wrong. these three photos introduced in an explicit way human consciousness of the violence that played out in these woods and fields. we see one or two people contemplating the placid landscape and we know what must be on their minds. the turmoil and death of the battle that had unfolded there if only in the thoughts of brady and his colleague. we accept today all photos imply the perception of the human viewer, the person that points the camera. more directly than had been done brady offers what is called first-person photography, a statement is that that a photo is not just an objective rendering of a scene, the work of the son, but a view created by individual consciousness. i should say in this picture the man is pointing to the woods where reynolds did die.
which makes him in one sense anonymous, allowing him to stand in for every viewer. this is not men standing in field. even without knowing this was brady himself, the viewer would know that this is a distinct individual contemplating the horrible scenes that had taken place within the camera's view. a year later brady was back in the field taking photographs of all grant's union commander army. soon after the disgraceful slaughter of the battle of cold
harbor near richmond. the only battle for which grant expressed regret for the waste of life. the army oe june 21, 1864 he posed general robert port, a division commander under general burnsside and his staff. it's very much brady's studio photographs taken out of doors. even the flap of the tent suggests the draperies at the studio. potter's men are arranged around him roughly by height, while potter is hatless and staring directly into the lens from the exact middle of the composition. if brady had stopped there, it would be a very satisfying photograph. but now that brady had started
putting himself in photographs he couldn't stop. this time we see his face. he has posed himself as what he was, not the subject of the photograph, the presiding -- who can view this image without knowing its author was not the son but a person, well tailored artist standing to the right of the frame, hand on hip, leg jauntily cocked. harold holtzer asked me to focus in this talk on lincoln that brady or his studio took in 1864. since a couple of my pages of the book do this, i thought i would read them to you. on august 9th and again on august 8, 1863, president lincoln went to sit for alexander gardner.
the first portraits made of lincoln since gardner's photographs of him in the field after antietam the previous october. brady was almost certainly galled by this, given his own relationship with the president. and on friday, january 8 exactly two months after the latter of lincoln sittings for gardner, lincoln appeared in brady's gallery for a series of photographs credited to brady himself. these are two of them for that -- from that sitting. perhaps because it was an election year, lincoln never shy around a camera, was more than usual willing to be photographed. a month later, february 9, 1864, a tuesday afternoon, he went again to brady's pennsylvania avenue gallery where he had an even longer sitting for brady photographer anthony berger.
according to the painter francis bicknell carpenter, who had just started work negotiate white house, he himself joined the president and mrs. lincoln that day under the front portico of the executive mansion where a carriage was to take them to the 3:00 point at brady. after they waited for a time and the carriage had not shown up, lincoln proposed he and carpenter walk the mile or so along pennsylvania avenue to the gallery, saying this won't hurt you and me to walk down. carpenter said lincoln entertained him on the way by telling stories including one of a long ago visit by daniel webster to springfield illinois. presumably mrs. lincoln followed once the carriage was rounded up and accompanied with their son who posed with lincoln that day. it's a charming photograph with tad standing beside his father who was seated in the famous brady posing chair, also called the lincoln chair, turning the page of a book they were both looking down at.
i just read recently that lincoln was worried people would assume they were looking at the bible and he didn't want to mislead people. they were actually looking, i think, at a book of brady photographs they just handed him as a prop. lincoln has on tiny reading glasses. tad is dressed like his father in a tie and dark jacket. a watch chain strung across his front. his arm, presumably steadying him on the arm of the chair, makes an intimate visual connection with his father. this, is among the most informal photographs ever taken of lincoln but is not the most significant of the half dozen pictures berger made that day. one, a profile, became the model for lincoln's head on the u.s. penny.
and another is said to have been the photograph the $5 bill was modeled, image the $5 bill was modeled on. so, those are three pretty significant photograph from one sitting. lincoln sat for berger at brady's one more time that spring on april 20th but only a single negative from that sitting exists and that one is broken. the following tuesday, april 26th, berger and at least one other photographer from brady's studio went to the white house at the request of carpenter to make some stereographic studies for me of the president's office. carpenter -- wait. it would help if i push the right button. this is a degarrett type of photo of carpenter sometime before the white house interlude. was preparing to paint his heroic work, first reading of the emancipation prok mags by president lincoln which now hangs in the u.s. capitol in the senate wing.
carpenter used brady photographs of lincoln and members of his cabinet for his painting. when berger made the april 26th visit, lincoln posed both seated and standing at the table in his office on which he -- at the table in his office on which he had signed the historic document. in his memoir "the inner life of abraham lincoln" carpenter tells a story about tad and his father on that day. brady's men requested an interior room at the white house where they would have the darkness necessary to prepare and then prepare the stereoscope plates. carpenter showed them to a room tad had been using as a small theater with stage curtains, orchestra stalls, par quet and all. berger and whoever was helping him that day set up their
equipment in that room and after preparing plates there took them to the president's office where they made photos of lincoln. when one of brady's men carried an exposed plate or two back to the interior room, he found that the door was locked. tad had discovered their presence in his theater and thrown a fit. locking the door and going off with the key. the photographers could not get to the chemicals they needed to fix the exposed images and prepare new plates. indeed, the only prints i've seen of that shoot are pretty bad. they were explaining the problem to carpenter and president who was sitting in his office chair waiting for another photograph when tad burst in in a fearful passion. lincoln calmly told tad to unlock the door. when lincoln learned he had gone to his mother's room and refused to obey his father, the president rose abruptly from his chair and strode across the passage with the air one bent on punishment. soon he came back with a key and unlocked the door himself. returning to his seat, waiting for the next exposure. the president explained, as carpenter recounts it, tad is a pk child. he was violently excited when i went to him.
i said, tad, do you know you are making your father a great deal of trouble. he burst into tears, instantly giving up the key. the last image i want to show you is taken after cold harbor in 1864. it's similar to the potter photograph in that a union general and his staff are the subject. that is potter's boss, ambrose burnside, now a general, of course, seated with his legs crossed in the middle of the photo.
what is interesting about this image, of course, is the somewhat ghostly presence of brady himself to the far left. although he is not moving but simply out of focus, it seems clear he had been arranging the men for the camera and was standing not far enough to one side when his operator exposed the plate. in a way it's fun y of course, a mistake, but it does speak to brady's role in a photo by brady when he was present. for me it's something else, this image of matthew brady both there and not there. after the years i've spent with him, he remains for me a ghostly presence, a significant figure of his time, but someone we will never know in whole. thank you. [applause] >> so, we're going to do some questions. yes, sir. >> congratulations on the book. i think it's extraordinary important. >> thank you. >> when brady and gardner's photographs were first published, the american public recoiled in horror, people who had never been to war had never seen those scenes.
are there any recorded accounts of lincoln's reaction to seeing the dead on the battlefield for the first time? >> not that i'm aware of. there probably -- i mean, i would imagine almost everyone in this room knows more about lincoln than i do. and i don't know of an account like that. i do think that the impact of these photographs on the public is very much exaggerated. you know, they were -- the pictures were in the brady studio and people who happened to walk by on broadway could go up and look at them and they were stereoscope and they looked down into a box. "the new york times" wrote a very touching, moving piece about them. you know, there weren't any
other exhibits that i know of, of the dead, like the one brady did.#.n and there is, as far as i can tell, i assume that gardner exhibited them in the washington studio, too, and there are no accounts in the newspapers about it. there's seemingly -- i'm sure there are many collectors in the room who may be able to add to this, but they're not apparently a terribly great number of sort of massed reproduced images of this around suggesting that they didn't really sell particularly well either. i'm doubtful of what -- of course, the war only got worse right? if they shocked the public, it didn't have a huge effect on them. i wish i knew about the effect on lincoln, but i don't. >> thank you. congratulations, again. >> thanks. >> question about the interior of ford's theater and the box and those of us who volunteer and have to answer questions like to tell the story that stanton -- later in the day lincoln died.
can you confirm that? is that a part of the story? and any other photographs that he took of historic places like that that could be used for restoration or for history? >> well, i think gardner people got there first and did a lot of pictures pictures around the event itself, including, i think, a picture of the telegraph office where the news went out to the nation that lincoln had died. i think brady's men got over there later and took the images they took. as i say, i mean, gardner had a better sort of journalistic sense. they were often -- brady people were often following them, i think. i'm not sure -- i don't really
know about other historic sites. >> did he also photograph historic sites in the city, in washington, in other cities where it wasn't just battlefields or people, but also architectural places that we -- >> well, when the -- when gibson went down on the peninsula, he often took pictures of sites related to revolutionary war yorkstown and things like that. i don't think of the photos as being essential architectural. there were landscapes done in connection with the top graphical engineers. -- topographical engineers. brady was really a portrait photographer his whole life and he really wanted to take pictures of people. thanks. yes, sir. >> thank you for filling in that void i had about brady. i have a several-part question.
of the many pictures that brady took of lincoln, who paid him? how much was he paid? >> who made -- >> who paid him. the government? and how much was he paid? >> i would very much doubt he was paid at all. he took many, many -- if you go into his account books at the library of congress from later on in the 1870s, you'll see all these places where it seems like with increasing futility, comp for mr. brady. brady always took pictures of the famous as comps. and he would -- you know, the send them a picture and keep one for his collection. i would be surprised if lincoln paid for any of those portraits. yes, sir. >> yeah. i worked at the clara -- in washington and doing my research
on her, i noticed that because brady's studio was so close, she had gone down and had a lot of pictures made by brady. so i wanted to locate his -- between sixth and seventh on pennsylvania. however, it's just an abandoned building. there is not even a plaque that says what it was. i found out it was the site of galt's jewelry which only claim to fame was woodrow wilson's wife, that galt was her first husband. >> yeah. >> but nothing. it's just an abandoned building. >> well, that's not exactly true. the two buildings that brady's studios were in in washington are connected to the big victorian building on the corner. >> yeah. >> they've all been put together. i'm pretty sure there is a plaque out in front of that building. i went in and looked at where brady's studio -- >> i've got pictures of it. i couldn't find it. maybe you saw it. maybe i missed it.
>> you may be right. i went up there. i didn't get any sense of brady having been there. when they redid those buildings there was an architectural report and it said the upper floor brady's studio had been in had been abandoned -- had been empty from the time brady left in 1881 for 100 years. it shows you how dynamic lower pennsylvania -- >> yeah the jewelry floor was on the first floor, i think. >> but there is one thing there that's of interest. a sky light on the back of the building. if you come up and look from behind, you can see the skylight on the side that brady had designed and put in there. i try -- i sort of think of it as george washington's axe, where somebody replaced the handle and shbls replaced the head but it's still george washington's axe.
there's at least a hole there that was brady -- a hole that brady made in the side of the building. yes, ma'am. >> speaking of the building on 16th -- on pennsylvania avenue. i've been in that building. my husband's uncle owned it about 50 years ago. and so -- >> my sympathies because he wasn't getting much rental. >> i was able to go up the very stairs lincoln would have gone up and also i was able to go into the room which would have been the studio. >> wow. >> although it had been converted, as you say, into apartments up there. but still you could see the area. the skylight was still there. it is not the skylight -- >> in the ceiling or in the back? >> it's in the ceiling toward pennsylvania avenue. and so that kind of kicks out the fact that the one in the back they put in when they renovated everything is really not what we would think is what
-- were the actual sky light was. >> well, there were skylights in the ceiling, but -- >> it's in the ceiling. >> there was one he put on the back that -- yeah, all of that was covered up. that's fascinating. >> but i think the skylight is still there. >> it is. >> i think they left it in the ceiling. >> oh, right. >> i should have looked at google maps, i guess. >> but it was really cool to go up the stairs and be in the really -- be in the room and stand where where those people would have stood and he took the photographs. one other thing, too, and gardner's photographs, it shows the picture of him seated in the chair that has that fringe on it and so forth. i was able to see that chair also because that was on display at sweden church on 16th street when mark katz did his book on gardner. and he had -- i don't know if he owned the chair but somehow or another that church had the
chair. that was another thing i really saw. one question i do have is have you ever seen a photograph of the outside of the washington studio? i have never been able to find one. >> i think there are photographs where you can see it from a distance. >> but you don't see -- >> not one that's sort of dead on, i guess. >> well, anyway -- >> that's very interesting. >> that's my story and i'm sticking with it. >> right. so much for the architectural report from 1981. >> brady's life ended kind of tragic. would you care to comment on his demise? >> yeah. brady was one of these people whose life didn't have a third act because it had a wonderful first act as a portrait photographer on broadway and then the civil war part. his finances went, you know, increasingly south after the war.
he worked very hard to sell this collection to the war department and was eventually able to get $25,000. although late in life he told james edward kelly, the sculptor who did the sketch of him, that a congressman -- a certain congressman had gotten a gratuity of 50%. brady only got $12,500. now, brady was not terribly trustworthy but he said, you can look it up, who the congressman was who put the bill in. and given who the congressman was, i tend to believe it. the congressman was beast butler. one i think congressmen in a very corrupt era. i wrote about him in an earlier book when he had taken 100,000
shares in a mining company as he put through one of the worst bills in u.s. history, the 1872 mining act, which is still denounced in the full-page ad in "the new york times" once a year i think for making minerals on federal lands available to commercial interests without much payback to the u.s. government. anyway. so he died pretty much penniless. his funeral was paid for in part by the -- one of the units in new york, i'm blanking right now on which one, that he had been an honorary member of. there was not enough money for a tombstone evidently because when a tombstone was finally put up it had the wrong year for his death on it. eventually that was replaced. but, yeah, he died penniless although i must say that he was about -- he was about to have a kind of revival. there was going to be a big
showing of his photographs at carnegie hall. brady was going to introduce them, and he had worked on kind of extended captions for each one, picked the order of them. i guess he died with little hope that his career was going to be revived in that way. >> thank you. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] >> the civil war air's here every saturday at 6:00 and 10:00 pm eastern time. too much more of our civil war programming any time, visit www.c-span.org/history. you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. >> a story and catherine clinton talks about what she calls quote parlor politics in