United States Civil War Senator
President Pro Tempore during the President Andrew Johnson Impeachment Trial
Image by Alexander Gardner, Washington, D.C.
(1800-78) Born in Springfield, Massachusetts, he studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1828, and commenced practice in Jefferson, Ashtabula County, Ohio. A member of the Whig Party, he served in the Ohio State Senate, 1837-38, 1841-42; and was judge of the third judicial court of Ohio, 1847-51. He served as a United States Senator, from 1851-69, and was an opponent of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, and the Kansas–Nebraska Act. Wade joined the Republican Party which was just coming into existence as the Whigs collapsed. He established a reputation as one of the most radical American politicians of the era, favoring women's suffrage, trade union rights, and equality for African-Americans. During the Civil War, Wade was highly critical of President Abraham Lincoln's leadership. In opposition to Lincoln's post-war plans for the Confederacy, which he deemed too lenient and conciliatory, Wade sponsored the Wade–Davis Bill, which proposed strict terms for the re-admittance of Confederate states to the Union. He also helped pass the Homestead Act of 1862, and the Morrill Act of 1862. In 1868, the U.S. House of Representatives impeached President Andrew Johnson for his defiance of the "Tenure of Office Act," which prevented the president from removing civil officers without the senate's consent. The law was passed over Johnson’s veto by the Radical Republicans in Congress in their efforts to wrestle control of Reconstruction from President Johnson, with the purpose of the act aimed specifically at preventing him from removing Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton, an ally of the Radical Republicans in the president's Cabinet. The Radicals vigorously opposed Johnson’s conciliatory policy toward the defeated South, and they gained enough strength in the congressional elections of 1866 to impose their military and civil programs upon the defeated Confederacy. Wade, who had gained much prominence at the start of the 40th Congress was named President pro tempore, and at that time he was #1 in line behind President Johnson to assume the duties of president! That meant that if Johnson were to be removed from the presidency, Wade would step in as the temporary President of the United States for the remainder of Johnson's term. There was no Vice President after Johnson's inauguration in 1865 after the assassination of President Lincoln. Wade's unpopularity among his moderate colleagues continued to increase significantly which became a problem, and was a factor in Johnson's acquittal from the impeachment charges. Wade lost his Senate re-election bid in 1868, though remained active in law and politics until his death in 1878. Although frequently criticized for his radicalism during his era, Wade's contemporary reputation has been lauded for his lifelong unwavering and persistent commitment to civil rights, and racial equality. Wade died in Jefferson, Ohio, on March 2, 1878, and he is buried there. His son, James F. Wade, was a Union Brevet Brigadier General, who fought in the Civil War, and had an excellent military record.
Wet plate, albumen carte de visite photograph, mounted to 2 3/8 x 4 card. Corners of the card mount have been trimmed. Bust view pose wearing a dark suit, vest and bow tie. Beautifully signed in ink on the front of the image, B.F. Wade, Ohio. Back mark: Alexander Gardner, Photographer to the Army of the Potomac. Galleries 511 Seventh Street and 332 Pennsylvania Av. Published by Philip & Solomons, Washington, D.C., with a 2 cents blue, George Washington, U.S. Internal Revenue Proprietary tax stamp on the verso. There is also a prominent vignette of the U.S. Capitol building at the upper center. Very sharp image, with a superb, bold autograph. Very desirable historical item considering the important position and role he played in the President Andrew Johnson impeachment trial, the very first presidential impeachment in American history. Scarce.