Posted by: Ron DuBour | August 1, 2014

American Heroes~Matthew Brady (1823-1896)~by rldubour

Friday!!!  time for another post of an American Hero, today with the help of poetry we take a look at:


Matthew Brady (1823-1896)

Born in Warren County, New York

To Andrew and Julia Brady.

Their new home in America

Named Matthew their first baby.


Matthew moved to New York City

At the age of seventeen.

Images of photography

To fulfill his life long dream.


By eighteen-hundred-forty-four

He opened his first studio.

Capturing moments of his time

Popularity began to show.


A second studio in forty-nine

In Washington D.C.

Portraits of Americans

Preserved for history.


There he met Juliette Handy

They were married in fifty-one.

His grand scale to document

The Civil War had begun.


Employed many photographers

A traveling darkroom to everyone.

His first popular photographs

Were at the Battle of Bull Run.


During the war he created

Over ten-thousand prints

Spending over one-hundred thousand

Thought would sell to our government.


His wife died in eighty-seven

Was devastated and deeply in debt.

Forced to sell his NY studio

Now bankrupt and an alcoholic.


Became a charity of the state

Died from a streetcar accident.

The 7th New York Infantry

Paid for Brady’s mortal descent.


This man Matthew Brady

There is no mystery.

A hero to preserve time

In our American history.


Author Notes:

Brady was born in Warren County, New York, to Irish immigrant parents, Andrew and Julia Brady. He moved to New York City at the age of 17. By 1844, he had his own photography studio in New York, and by 1845,  Brady’s early images were daguerreotypes, and he won many awards for his work; in the 1850s ambrotype photography became popular, which gave way to the albumen print, a paper photograph produced from large glass negatives most commonly used in the American Civil War photography. In 1859, Parisian photographer André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri popularized the cartes de visite and these small pictures (the size of a visiting card) rapidly became a popular novelty as millions of these images were created and sold in the United States and Europe. He employed Alexander Gardner, James Gardner, Timothy H. O’Sullivan, William Pywell, George N. Barnard, Thomas C. Roche and seventeen other men, each of who were given a traveling darkroom, to go out and photograph scenes from the Civil War. Brady generally stayed in Washington, D.C., organizing his assistants and rarely visited battlefields personally. This may have been due, at least in part, to the fact that Brady’s eyesight began to deteriorate in the 1850s.Brady’s efforts to document the Civil War on a grand scale by bringing his photographic studio right onto the battlefields earned Brady his place in history. Despite the obvious dangers, financial risk, and discouragement of his friends he is later quoted as saying “I had to go. A spirit in my feet said ‘Go,’ and I went.” His first popular photographs of the conflict were at the First Battle of Bull Run, in which he got so close to the action that he only just avoided being captured. During the war Brady spent over $100,000 to create 10,000 prints. He expected the U.S. government to buy the photographs when the war ended, but when the government refused to do so he was forced to sell his New York City studio and go into bankruptcy. Congress granted Brady $25,000 in 1875, but he remained deeply in debt. Depressed by his financial situation, and devastated by the death of his wife in 1887, Brady became an alcoholic and died penniless in the charity ward of Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, from complications following a streetcar accident. His funeral was financed by veterans of the 7th New York Infantry. He is buried in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

Levin Corbin Handy, Brady’s nephew by marriage, took over his uncle’s photography business after his death.  Brady photographed portraits of many senior Union officers in the war, such as Ulysses S. Grant, Nathaniel Banks, Don Carlos Buell, Ambrose Burnside, Benjamin Butler, Joshua Chamberlain, George Custer, David Farragut, John Gibbon, Winfield Hancock, Samuel P. Heintzelman, Joseph Hooker, Oliver Howard, David Hunter, John A. Logan, Irvin McDowell, George McClellan, James McPherson, George Meade, David Dixon Porter, William Rosecrans, John Schofield, William Sherman, Daniel Sickles, Henry Warner Slocum, George Stoneman, Edwin V. Sumner, George Thomas, Emory Upton, James Wadsworth, and Lew Wallace. On the Confederate side, Brady managed to photograph P.G.T. Beauregard, Stonewall Jackson, James Longstreet, Lord Lyons, James Henry Hammond, and Robert E. Lee. (Lee’s first session with Brady was in 1845 as a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, his final after the war in Richmond, Virginia.) Brady also photographed Abraham Lincoln on many occasions.

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