The madness of Edwin M. Stanton (cont.)

No reasonable person expects a madman to be a highly effective/ highly functional worker unless the work is some form or repetitive manual labor. The quality of work exposes derangements. Maybe sociopaths are an exception to this, but they give themselves away in other things.

Stanton's personal interactions during the war seem those of a sociopath. People were useful to him or not. He was cruel and domineering toward the helpless and he was obsequious to the influential.

I would like to share vignettes of Stanton at work. Donn Piatt was a childhood friend of Stanton's:
A subordinate, to deal comfortably with the War Secretary, had to be a mere cipher, so despotic was he. I remember when summoned before him as Judge Advocate of the commission called to investigate the conduct of General Don Carlos Buell, in Tennessee, I ventured to say "This is all very well Mr. Secretary but I'd like to know where you find a law to sanction such a court as this."

"My noble captain," replied the Secretary, his short upper lip curling, and with the gleam of his white teeth and dark eyes making an expression anything but comfortable, "you are commissioned to obey orders and not to study law, for it is rather late in life for you to begin that. When I need a legal adviser it is not likely that I will call upon Judge Piatt. If I am to be met here with the quibble of a county-court lawyer I will find some other officer."

The sarcasm stung, for I had been placed upon the bench at the age of 25 ... However I hid the hurt and said, "All right; but I would suggest this is no ordinary inquiry and should be made up of the ablest officers."

"That is true," responded the Secretary, "You go to the list of officers not on duty and I will appoint from them."
The next day, list in hand, Piatt encounters Stanton on the street.
I turned and walked with him telling him what I had done. He was in a terrible mood and neither looked at nor spoke to me. At the door of his office, the messenger threw it open and the Secretary stalking in banged it to in my face. This wooden insult sent a flush to my face. Turning, I saw General Fremont who had witnessed the affront, and while talking to this remarkable man the messenger came ... "The Secretary wants you." I went in. Stanton was seated alone at the end of his table. Looking up, he exclaimed, "Don, what in the ___ do you want?"

"Nothing sir, not even civil treatment. You directed me to make out a list of officers to compose the Buell court. I have done so and only came to report the names."

"Take them to Halleck, that is his business," roared the Secretary. "I can't run the War Department let alone trying to run Halleck. Go to him.

"Mr. Secretary," I said quietly, "I don't mind being jumped on by you any more than if it was my elder brother, but I won't be insulted by General Halleck, as you know I will be if I go as you direct."

"Insulted?" he exclaimed angrily, "I'll see to that. Here, take him this" and he hastily wrote a note.

I did as ordered. I appeared before the great Art of War ... He read the note I handed him and then, tearing it in two, dropped it in the waste-basket saying, with all the sarcasm his dull face was capable of -

"What is your address captain?"

I gave it to him and then, rising from his chair, he bowed mockingly and added, "When I need your assistance, I shall certainly send for you, captain."

The sarcasm of this was so well done that it raised the dull, epauleted creature in my estimation far above what his stupid book had done. I retired as gracefully as I could and reported the affair to Stanton.

"Damn his insolence! Why didn't you pull his nose?"

"Because the insult was directed at you," I answered. "I was only the poor devil of a captain assigned to the duty of carrying it. I wish to God I was out of this."

My perplexity amused the Secretary. He burst into a laugh and said, "Oh, never mind Halleck, he can't insult anyone. Take the court he gives you and do the best you can," and seeing that I was deeply hurt he put his arm around my shoulders, in his old caressing way, and added, "and don't mind me, we are both hasty. This is an important business I give you and I know I can trust you."
Of course he is saying, I can trust you to hang Buell. And that is the payoff for Piatt in this brutal little psychodrama, a psychodrama that is the Union war effort in miniature.

Consider a story about Lorenzo Thomas (pictured). When, as a consulting War Department lawyer, Stanton gained Cameron's place, he told Piatt he wanted to do four things. The fourth was, "I will pick Lorenzo Thomas up with a pair of tongs and drop him from the nearest window."

In his Anecdotes of the Civil War in the United States, E. D. Townsend relates how Stanton busied Thomas with various special assignments to keep him out of the office. He succeeded in practically vacating Thomas's office from 1862-1868. In attempting to supersede him without relieving him in 1863, Townsend confronts Stanton with the law at which point Stanton rationalizes the presence of Thomas's replacement into a special assignment for a particular task. Not a replacement.

Townsend also relates events around Lorenzo Thomas's appointment to ad interim Secretary of War:
On Friday, the 21st [1868], the general came to the room where I was sitting with another officer, and, calling him, they went out together. In a short time they returned, and the general threw a letter on my table, which was the one from the President, appointing him Secretary of War ad interim. He told me he had delivered the letter to Mr. Stanton, removing him, and had taken the other officer to be a witness to the interview ; that, on reading the letter to Mr. Stanton, the latter remarked, "I suppose you will give me time to remove my private papers!" and that he then asked for a copy of the President s letter of appointment. I made this copy, and the general certified it officially as "Secretary of War ad interim." When Mr. Stanton received the copy, he said he would consider whether he would recognize it or not. General Thomas seemed to think Mr. Stanton would retire without making any opposition. He said emphatically that he should most certainly, at all hazards, take possession of the war-office on the following Monday, which would give Mr. Stanton ample time to vacate, Saturday (February 22d) being a holiday, and Sunday coming right after. He then sent his letter to the President, accepting the appointment.

On Saturday, February 22d, I went to the War Department, as usual on holidays, merely for my private letters. The rooms were all locked, and the keys were in
Mr. Stanton s possession. He had remained in his own office all night. I went to General Schriver's room, which was directly opposite the Secretary's. At about
noon General Thomas entered the building unaccompanied. He had been all the night at a masked ball with his family, had just sat down to breakfast without taking off his uniform, when he was arrested and summoned before Chief-Justice Cartter, of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia. The arrest was made on a warrant issued upon Mr. Stanton's affidavit that, on a pretended appointment of Secretary of War ad interim, he had endeavored to exercise the authority of the Secretary of War, contrary to the act "regulating the tenure of certain civil offices," passed March, 1867. He gave bail in five thousand dollars to appear on the following Wednesday. From the court he proceeded directly to the President s office, and, after consultation with the President, went to the Secretary's room in the War Department. His arrest had changed his intention of waiting till Monday to demand possession of the office. There were several members of Congress with Mr. Stanton. The general courteously saluted those present, and the following colloquy ensued:

General Thomas (addressing Mr. Stanton). I am Secretary of War ad interim, and am ordered by the President of the United States to take charge of this office.

Mr. Stanton. I order you to repair to your room, and exercise your office as adjutant-general.

General T. I am Secretary of War ad interim, and I shall not obey your orders; but I shall obey the order of the President to take charge of this office.

Mr. S. As Secretary of War, I order you to repair to your office as adjutant-general.

General T. I shall not do so.

Mr. S. Then you may stand there, if you please; but you will attempt to act as Secretary of War at your peril.

General T. I shall act as Secretary of War.

There the official interview ended. There was no excitement in language or manner, but each spoke with quiet determination. There was a short-hand writer present who took down every word. Presently, General Thomas crossed the hall to General Schriver's room - both doors had been all the time open. Mr. Stanton, followed
only by the stenographer, came in after him. The door of General Schriver's room was then closed. Mr. Stanton, resuming the colloquy, said in a laughing tone to General Thomas, "So you claim to be here as Secretary of War, and refuse to obey my orders, do you?" General Thomas replied, seriously: "I do so claim. I shall require the mails of the War Department to be delivered to me, and shall transact all the business of the department." Seeing that the general looked as if he had had no rest the night before, Mr. Stanton then, playfully running his fingers up through the general's hair, as he wearily leaned back in his chair, said, "Well, old fellow,
have you had any breakfast this morning? " "No," said Thomas, good-naturedly. "Nor anything to drink?" "No." " Then you are as badly off as I am, for I have had neither." Mr. Stanton ten sent out for some refreshment; General Thomas related how he had been arrested just after returning with his children from a ball, before he had time to eat his breakfast, and they had a very pleasant conversation for half an hour. Presently, Mr. Stanton asked General Thomas when he was going to give him the report of an inspection of the national cemeteries which he had lately made. Mr. Stanton said if it was not soon rendered it would be too late to have it printed, and he was anxious to have it go forth as a creditable work of the department. There was apparently no special point to this question, and General Thomas evidently saw none, for he answered pleasantly that he would work at it that night and give it to him. It struck me as a lawyer's ruse to make Thomas acknowledge Stanton's authority as Secretary of War, and that Thomas was caught by it. I, some time after, asked Mr. Stanton if that was his design. He made no reply, but looked at me with a mock expression of surprise at my conceiving such a thing.

Before General Thomas left the department, Mr. Stanton handed him a letter forbidding him to give any orders as Secretary of War. The general read and indorsed it as received on that date, signing the indorsement as Secretary ad interim; which Mr. Stanton seeing, he remarked, laughing, "Here you have committed another offense!" To this the general assented. He soon after went away for the day.

[...] There were some persistent reports that it was fully intended that possession of the War Department should be gained by force, if Mr. Stanton would not voluntarily retire. [...] As for Mr. Stanton, who had heard some of the reports of intended violence, he gave orders, the evening of the 22d, that, if General Thomas should come to take the department by force, no resistance should be made, but that he should be immediately notified of his approach. This order was kept secret, because, if known, it might lead to the attempt being made. Mr. Stanton, however, declared he would not have blood shed on his account, and, if an assault on the building were attempted, he would not try to repel it.
Stanton's reason and mercy are here on display: he will not kill U.S. soldiers in the course of defying his president's orders.


Spielberg's Lincoln takes shape

Hat tip to Ireland's Independent newspaper which tallies the years in which Lincoln has been in development - seven. Movies are ephemeral, but this has been ridiculous. It seems to be shooting now (January), so a few more lines may be in order.

Search this blog and I'm sure there are posts for every one of those years. Let's review some memes.

Recall first that Spielberg bought the rights to Lincoln, Master of Men, sight unseen. This was a book still being written by the notorious Doris Kearns Goodwin. After the book was released as Team of Rivals (Ireland's Independent has a comical misnomer for it, "Team of Equals"), Spielberg seemed to back away from his commitment to Goodwin by hiring the gay celebrity / Broadway scriptwriter Tony Kushner to pen the screenplay. Stories about Kushner's work on Lincoln focused on the massive amount of original research he was doing without mentioning Goodwin or his use of her book.

The current issue of Variety gives us more information than we had before. It says the "script versions [of Goodwin's book] written by John Logan and Paul Webb" were written into a "final script version" by Kushner who used "Goodwin's book as a key though not exclusive basis for the film." You probably speak enough Hollywoodese to be able to translate that.

Back in September, Spielberg issued a useless, spurious, and misleading statement that "The movie will be purposely coming out after next year's election. I didn't want it to become political fodder." In other words, a film that had not started shooting yet, that had no domestic or foreign distribution deals, would not be released in less than 12 months out of concern for political ramifications.

Yea, verily, to quote the Bible, or Lincoln, or both.

Heritage tourism, meanwhile, has gotten another shot of the heroin it craves. Virginia projects untold masses of visitors inspired somehow to visit the state neighboring the actual setting of the movie. Quoth the state: "We will have the power of Disney’s marketing behind us." The power = hidden Spielberg reference! The article reporting this says "The premiere of a legendary director’s movie on one of the era’s key figures is more than icing on the cake; it’s every tourism director’s dream." If true, wouldn't it be the DC tourism director's dream? How do we work in reference to the dark side here?

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter will precede Spielberg's Lincoln at the box office. Won't that generate Virginia tourism? It takes care of the dark side reference, anyway.

Flippancy aside, Tommy Lee Jones is set to play Sen. Thad Stevens who appears to be a bete noir to Lincoln. (I don't think Stevens figured much in Goodwin's book, but that's what script doctors get paid the big bucks for.) We can extrapolate Hollywood's logic in making Stevens central to Lincoln's story as the script's need for a character arc. We will see Lincoln's initial antagonism to Stevens, then his acceptance of Stevens, then his growth and transformation into a better Stevens. That will be the big payoff of the movie. Chase, Stanton, Seward, et al will be a team of extras.

I'd like to close with a favorite Thaddeus Stevens quote. If this comes out of a movie theatre speaker, I'll be surprised.
Though the President is Commander-in-Chief, Congress is his commander; and, God willing, he shall obey. He and his minions shall learn that this is not a Government of kings and satraps, but a Government of the people, and that Congress is the people.
Oddly enough, there is a Stevens Society. Perhaps it will get the boost intended for Virginia tourism.

(Photo: Actor Daniel Day Lewis impersonates a Russian muzhik.)


Pop quiz

Stanton returns this week in a thrilling conclusion to our thread.

Meanwhile, pop quiz. Which Civil War head of state is this describing?

"He was also very inclined to avoid overt responsibility for difficult decisions, operating from behind the backs of his generals to get his way, and distancing himself from them if failures occurred."

Answer: You thought, "Of course, this could only be Abraham Lincoln." But the quote is from Dominic Lieven, Russia Against Napoleon. It refers to Alexander I.

Which just goes to show that the ACW is always with us, everywhere, and at all times.


The madness of Edwin M. Stanton (cont.)

Some snippets from Edwin McMasters Stanton: the Autocrat of Rebellion, Emancipation, and Reconstruction.

A Thomas McCrary remembered:
I lived with Ed Stanton from August, 1837, until March 1838. He was one of the kindest and most affectionate of men. I had many talks with him after his wife died and he could never speak of her without weeping. [...] Ed never hunted an hour in his life. He worked all the time, worked terribly. He invariably carried, in a beautiful sheath on the inside of his vest, a fine dagger, seven inches in length. As he gave no time, not a moment, to personal controversies, and was never abroad except on business, I never decided why he carried such a dreadful weapon.
Was this an implement for suicide? from a Judge A.C. Turner, a Cadiz lawyer during this period:
When Mr. Stanton was employed to defend a man who had administered to a person poison that finally caused death, he swallowed some of the drug in order to test the effect on himself. The consequences were severe, but the whites of eggs and other antidotes brought him out whole, and he saved the man's neck.
H.S. McFadden, a bank employee in Cadiz:
... having tried poison on himself [Stanton] appeared to know more than all the doctors.
In the winter of 1847, Stanton, a successful attorney, began giving regular public shows of hypnotism. Mrs. David Filsom of Steubenville:
Calling for volunteer subjects, he put many 'to sleep,' as it was called, and controlled them, bringing them out at will. One night, however, in Stier's Hall, he went to far in mesmerizing a man named Taylor, an employee of the paper mill. After controlling the subject for a time he failed to bring the usual return to consciousness. Repeated efforts resulted similarly, and the audience became frightened. However, after great exertion, Mr. Stanton succeeded in bringing the subject back to life, and that ended public exhibitions of mesmerism in Steubenville.


The madness of Edwin M. Stanton (cont.)

Edwin Stanton's friend Donn Piatt gives us this: Stanton was a poet, ruled by his imagination. At the same time, he was a man of action and his actions, being driven by a powerful imagination, were incomprehensible to those around him.

In the case of Ann Howard, we move past imagination to delusionally obsessive behavior. Stanton could not quench the fantasy that Ann Howard had been buried alive until he personally dug up her corpse and personally handled her cholera-ridden remains.

Then again, in choosing to clothe the corpse of his dead first wife in her wedding gown, Stanton obsessed that it should fit the corpse closely (flatteringly?) and had the dress modified repeatedly.

Lincoln comments famously on Stanton's mania (the needing-bricks-in-his-pockets remark) where Piatt finds Stanton the depressive weeping uncontrollably after what should have been a pleasant reunion.

The Stanton breakdown best known to Civil War readers occurred March 9, 1862.

Sound-bite-sized snippets of this incident have been doled out by talespinners in a hurry, depriving readers of the full flavor of the utter insanity that ruled that day - insanity emanating from a vortex inside Stanton.

The entire episode is passed off as no more than a collective panic attack, with Stanton more affected than the other Cabinet members.

(I ask readers to go to their favorite histories and read how the incident is treated before proceeding with what follows.)

The source is the Diary of Gideon Welles - a long entry. I have edited out his remarks about the panic of Lincoln, Seward, and others because the way he describes these, they are nothing more than anxiety attacks. Lincoln et al are upset and frightened but they make no claims, assertions, extrapolations, etc. In their panic they merely seek more and more information under the influence of emotionally impaired judgement.

The behavior of one person in this anecdote, however, could reasonably called mad. Welles:
When intelligence reached Washington on Sunday morning, the 9th of March, that the Merrimac had come down from Norfolk and attacked and destroyed the Cumberland and Congress, I called at once on the President, who had sent for me. Several members of the Cabinet soon gathered. Stanton was already there, and there was general excitement and alarm. The President himself was so excited that he could not deliberate or be satisfied with the opinions of non-professional men... But the most frightened man on that gloomy day, the most so I think of any during the Rebellion, was the Secretary of War. He was at times almost frantic, and as
he walked the room with his eyes fixed on me, I saw well the estimation in which he held me with my unmoved and unexcited manner and conversation.
Welles next lays out the claims Stanton makes for the Virginia, a single ship about which Stanton knows almost nothing:
The Merrimac, he said, would destroy every vessel in the service, could lay every city on the coast under contribution, could take Fortress Monroe; McClellan's mistaken purpose to advance by the Peninsula must be abandoned, and Burnside [in NC] would inevitably be captured.
If the Virginia were some kind of Jules Verne supership of the future, all but one of these claims would still be beyond reason. But Stanton has more:
Likely the first movement of the Merrimac would be to come up the Potomac and disperse Congress, destroy the Capitol arid public buildings; or she might go to New York and Boston and destroy those cities, or levy from them contributions sufficient to carry on the War.
What one ship on earth could do that? Would it carry infinite fuel, infinite shot, infinite crew, infinite storage? Would its guns have unlimited elevation and unlimited traverse? Would its draught be adjustable? Welles describes an attempt to refute Stanton point by point, plunging the reader into that pathos. Welles:
... to me there was throughout the whole day something inexpressibly ludicrous in the wild, frantic talk, action, and rage of Stanton as he ran from room to room, sat down and jumped up after writing a few words, swung his arms, scolded, and raved. He could not fail to see and feel my opinion of him and his bluster, that I was calm and unmoved by his rant, spoke deliberately, and was not excited by his violence.
Welles writes how Lincoln and the others fed off of Stanton's emotions and how he was alone. As with Piatt, Welles is struck by changes in Stanton's visage. Welles describes his hopes for the Monitor:
... when I mentioned she had two guns, his mingled look of incredulity and contempt cannot be described; and the tone of his voice, as he asked if my reliance was on that craft with her two guns, is equally indescribable. Others mingled in the conversation with anxiety and concern, but on the part of Stanton there was censure, bitterness, and a breaking-out of pent-up malevolence that I could not misunderstand.
Please read the following carefully and think carefully about what Welles is saying:
My composure and the suggestions and views I presented were evidently a relief to him [Lincoln], but Stanton's wailings and woeful predictions disturbed him. Both he and Stanton went repeatedly to the window and looked down the Potomac the view being uninterrupted for miles to see if the Merrimac was not coming to Washington. It was asked what we could do if she were now in sight.
Both he and Stanton went repeatedly to the window - I would suggest that Stanton was again in the grip of an obsessional delusion. Here, he could not exhume a corpse to find inner peace, he had to take different actions. Welles:
... Stanton in his terror telegraphed to the governors of the Northern States and the mayors of some of the cities, warning them of the danger, and advising, as I was told, that rafts of timber and other obstructions should be placed at the mouths of the harbors.
The man of action responds to the man of imagination.

In connection with this flurry of orders to coastal cities, Welles discovered that Stanton secretly ordered a naval officer (Dahlgren) to prepare to sink ships in the Potomac as well. On Lincoln's advice, the order is shelved until such time as the Virginia should be spotted in the Potomac.

The Virginia did not come and Stanton's obsession passed.

(Image by the late, great Virgil Finlay.)


The madness of Edwin M. Stanton (cont.)

The episodes of "morbid instability" in Stanton's earlier life and his irrational public displays during and after the Civil War come to mind when reading a postwar reminiscence by Stanton's friend, Donn Piatt (shown right). From an article in the North American Review:
The truth is, Stanton's imagination was through life the larger and most potent quality of his mind, and from first to last he lived in a world so tinctured by it, that his thoughts and acts were mysteries to the commonplace, matter of fact minds about him. [...] With all his poetic temperament and high imaginative quality he was a man of action more than of thought [...] The strangest part ... is to look back and contrast the Stanton of my earlier knowledge with the Stanton of later days. I cannot divest myself of the feeling that I am considering two widely dissimilar men. I can see, as if an hour since, the youthful advocate ... his profusion of dark hair, ever disheveled, as he stood Bible in hand ... telling us of the "Poetry of God," and the road to heaven through culture and goodness.
Piatt recounts touchingly a reunion in adulthood. It culminates in another classic Stanton breakdown:
It was at Washington we met, upon the streets, and I seized the old Stanton by the hand with a cry of delight. For a second the old, well loved gleam of pleasure lit his face, and then it faded out, and a gloomy sad expression took its place, and the Stanton I once knew was gone forever. His manner, so cold, reserved and formal, embarassed me. It was not precisely hostile, it was more an indifference, that annoyed. [...] I accompanied Stanton to his room at the National Hotel, and all the while I saw he was striving to be pleasant and familiar, and that the effort was in vain. Terminating the interview as soon as I conveniently could, I left him. At the entrance of the hotel, on the avenue below, I remembered a message I wished to give him, and had forgotten. Hastily ascending I knocked at his door, and getting no answer, entered. He was seated at the table, with his face hid in his arm, and as I touched his shoulder he looked up. To my amazement, his face was distorted with extreme grief, while tears seemed to blind him. Shocked and astonished, I stammered out my message. "Yes, yes," he said, wiping his eyes. "it is very kind of you Donn, but not now, please not now."


The madness of Edwin M. Stanton

There is a quintet of stories about Stanton's displays of insanity, each triggered by grief except the last, which culminates in (rumored) suicide. I encountered these on the Internet and went to one of my Stanton biographies for a "sanity check."

Harold Hyman posthumously finished a biography started by Benjamin Thomas (Stanton: The Life and Times of Lincoln's Secretary of War). The evidence handling is better than nowadays and I like the way they (admirers of Stanton) manage his many villainous acts without insulting their readers' intelligence. Quite a different treatment than the patronization you get today.

I. Digging up his fiancee's grave

Online, there is a report of Stanton personally exhuming his fiancee's corpse to confirm her death.

This seems to refer to Ann Howard, a woman Stanton had taken interest in (but who is not described as a fiancee). Our biographers report that she served Stanton lunch at noon on 8/9/33 and then died before 4 pm. The killer was cholera, hence the family interred her remains immediately.

"When Stanton learned of the horrible event, he experienced a morbid conviction that she had been buried alive. Persuading a young medical student and another boarder to help, he hurried to the burial ground and by lamplight exhumed and opened the casket. At the risk of contamination he made sure that the girl's body gave no sign of life..."

II. His daughter exhumed

Online we learn that Stanton had his dead daughter Lucy disinterred and her remains placed in a box which he kept at his bedside for "more than a year."

In Thomas/Hyman it says that a student clerking in Stanton's law office is the source of the story that Lucy was exhumed a year after death and her remains placed in a metal box, specially designed and "kept ... in his [Stanton's] own room." The student was named W.S. Buchanan. Lucy died in 8/41. Exhumation a year later would be around 8/42. Our authors dispute Buchanan's account on the basis of a March 1844 letter written by Stanton saying his wife wanted a memorial placed on the daughter's grave. They view this as proof her remains were still buried. However, the two pieces of evidence are not contradictory. In characterizing Buchanan's account, Thomas/Hyman say Stanton is here depicted as "once again gave way to the morbid instability he had displayed" in the Ann Howard affair. "Morbid instability" is the meme here.

III. Sleeping with his wife's remains

Online we are told that Stanton had his deceased first wife Mary clothed in her wedding dress and her remains kept in his bed, sleeping with the corpse for a time until having her buried along with Lucy's remains.

Thomas/Hyman note that this 3/44 death put Stanton into grief "that verged on insanity." They do not mention him sleeping with her corpse but mention him altering and re-altering her wedding dress for the burial. He "stealthily" brought mementoes to her grave including jewelry and letters. He "spent hours rereading her letters..."

IV. Unhinged at his brother's suicide

The story online is that Stanton became "unhinged" at his brother's suicied and had to be sought in the woods where searchers feared he woudl take his own life.

On 9/23/46, Stanton's physician brother cut his own throat with a razor, one witness of the death scene noting the blood even spurted to the ceiling. Thomas/Hyman note that the distraught Stanton fled into the woods (at seeing the site of the suicide?) and that searchers found him and led him out of the forest before he could harm himself. The biographers say Stanton was "oppressed grievously."

V. Death by his own hand

Online you will find accounts that make Stanton's death a suicide.

Thomas/Hyman have Stanton dying after losing consciousness in the evening of a day in which he was wracked by coughing. They do not enter into the suicide question.

After his death, one of his doctors felt it necessary to issue a suicide rebuttal. This may be worth a look.

The oddest thing was Grant's comment on Stanton's death, that he "was as much a martyr to the Union as Sedgwick or McPherson." Sedgwick and McPherson were killed by fatal wounds. What was Stanton's fatal wound if he died of natural causes in his own bed after the war?

(Photo: Son Edwin L. Stanton shown with father. The boy lost one eye in a childhood accident.)