United States Congressman from Massachusetts
Member of the President Andrew Johnson Impeachment Congress
United States Speaker of the House
Governor of Massachusetts
1861 Mathew B. Brady image
(1816-1894) Born at Waltham, Massachusetts. He was Speaker of the Massachusetts House, presided over the Constitutional Convention of 1853, and the same year was elected to the U.S. Congress, the first of ten terms. Elected Speaker of the House of Representatives in 1856, Banks showed moderation in deciding among factions during the bitter slavery debates. In 1858 he was elected Governor of Massachusetts, serving until January 1861, when President Abraham Lincoln appointed him a Major General of Volunteers after Banks offered his services. Many West Point officers could not understand this appointment considering that Banks had substandard military qualifications for the job of a field commander. He did contribute immeasurably in recruits, morale, money and propaganda to the Federal cause however. He was defeated by General Stonewall Jackson in the celebrated 1862 Shenandoah Valley campaign with the loss of 30% of his force, and again by Jackson at Cedar Mountain, Va. Banks saw service during the Vicksburg campaign, and commanded the siege and capture of Port Hudson, La., and also commanded the Red River campaign. General Banks undertook a number of steps intended to facilitate the Reconstruction plans of President Lincoln in Louisiana. When Banks arrived in New Orleans, the atmosphere was somewhat hostile to the Union owing to some of General Benjamin F. Butler's actions. Banks moderated some of Butler's policies, freeing civilians that Butler had detained and reopening churches whose ministers refused to support the Union. He recruited large numbers of African Americans for the military, and instituted formal works and education programs to organize the many slaves who had left their plantations. After the war Banks returned to his political career. He died on September 1, 1894, at Waltham, Mass., at the age of 84. Fort Banks in Winthrop, Massachusetts, built in the late 1890s, was named for him. A statue of him stands in Waltham's Central Square, and Banks Street in New Orleans is named after him.
Wet plate, albumen carte de visite photograph, mounted to 2 3/8 x 4 card. Excellent half view seated pose of Banks wearing a double breasted frock coat with epaulets and rank of major general, and rectangular eagle belt plate while cradling his sword across his arm. Imprint on the front mount: Maj. Gen'l. N.P. Banks. Entered according to the act of Congress, in the year 1861, by M.B. Brady, in the Clerk's office of the District Court of the District of Columbia. Very sharp image. Extremely desirable early war pose of General Banks.