Special Report

Civil War Artifacts in the Smithsonian

The museum collections house many items from the Civil War, including photographs, uniforms and personal diaries

Lincoln's Top Hat (National Museum of American History)

Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton’s Chair, Smithsonian Institution Castle Collection

Edwin M Stanton chair
(Smithsonian Institution Castle Collection)

This mahogany chair is one of a pair in the Smithsonian Castle Collection that was once owned by former U.S. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton (1814-69). “The major significance of the chairs is their provenance,” says curator Richard Stamm, “but they are impressive in their own right as well,” with carved lion heads on each arm and a style that Stamm deems “essentially Renaissance Revival, popular in the 1860s and ’70s.” Stanton served as secretary of war under presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, and was known for running a successful Union war effort and for his strong, unbending attitude toward Southern sympathizers. The chair will go on view in the Castle Building’s Schermer Hall in April 2011.

by Jeff Campagna


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