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List of federal judges appointed by James Buchanan

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President Buchanan.
President Buchanan.

Following is a list of all Article III United States federal judges appointed by President James Buchanan during his presidency.[1] In total Buchanan appointed 8 Article III federal judges, including 1 Associate Justice to the Supreme Court of the United States, and 7 judges to the United States district courts. Buchanan appointed no judges to the United States circuit courts during his time in office.

Buchanan appointed 2 judges to the United States Court of Claims, an Article I tribunal.

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  • ✪ Stanton: Lincoln’s War Secretary
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>> David Ferriero: Good afternoon. I'm David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and it's a pleasure to welcome you this afternoon to the William McGowan Theater. Whether you're here in the theater or watching us on our YouTube channel, we're glad you could join us for the discussion of "Stanton: Lincoln’s War Secretary." with award-winning author Walter Stahr. Before we get started. I want to tell you about two other programs coming up here in the McGowan theater. Wednesday September 6 at noon, please join us for the program Writers, Sailors, Soldier Spy: Ernest Hemingway's Secret Adventures, 1935-1961. Author Nicholas Reynolds was a historian at the CIA Museum in 2010, he began to uncover clues suggesting that novelist Ernest Hemingway was deeply involved in mid-20th century spy craft. In Writer, Sailor, Solder, Spy Reynolds reveals the whole story of this hidden side of Hemingway's life that reads like an espionage thriller. A book signing will follow the program. In conjunction with Hispanic Heritage month We proudly present the program An American Experience, A Class Apart, on Thursday September 7, at noon. Built around the landmark 1954 case Hernandez versus Texas. The hour-long film interweaves the stories of central characters with the broader story of the Civil Rights Movement. It also brings the post-World War II struggle of Mexican-Americans trying to dismantle the discrimination targeted against them. To learn more about these and all of our programs consult our our calendar of events, There are copies in the lobby as well as a sign-up sheet where you can receive by regular mail or e-mail. Of the crucial men close to President Lincoln, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton was the most powerful and controversial. He raise, armed and supervised an army of a million men who won the Civil War. He organized the war effort and directed military movements from his telegraph office where Lincoln literally hung out with him. He arrested and imprisoned thousands for war crimes such as resisting the draft or calling for and armistice. Stanton was so controversial, some accused him at that time of complicity in Lincoln's assassination. He was a stubborn genius who was both reviled and revered in his time. Reviewing Stanton, Harold Holzer writes: “This exhaustively researched, well-paced book should take its place as the new, standard biography of the ill-tempered man who helped save the Union: It is fair, judicious, authoritative and comprehensive. Ron Chernow calls the book fair-minded, rigorous, and scrupulously honest, balancing his sometimes-questionable record on civil liberties with the logistical wizardry that he applied to win the Union war effort.” Larry Matthews in the Washington Independent Review of Books says “There are many biographies of Stanton, but Stahr’s will stand out as one of the finest and most detailed. This is a book for both scholars of Civil War history and general readers who have a deep interest in that period.” Walter Stahr is no stranger to the National Archives. He's graced our stage with all three of his books and before that on a panel discussion has drawn on the records housed in our facilities for his research. He said, and this is a direct quote: "Libraries store the raw material of history one simply cannot write history books without libraries and good librarians who work there." Here at the National Archives we proudly preserve the permanent records of the federal government and make them accessible to all. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1982 , Walter Stahr joined the Washington office of an international law firm. 1986 was posted to Hong Kong where he worked three years on international litigations. In 1990 he joined the Securities and Exchange Commission, writing speeches and congressional testimony and advising on enforcement cases. In '95 he joined fidelity investments to become their first international lawyer based in Hong Kong. His travels took him to Japan and Taiwan. In 1999 he joined the emerging markets partnership, as internal lawyer focusing on Asia and where he eventually rose to be the general counsel. In addition to Stanton he's the author of "John Jay" Founding Father" and Seward: Lincoln's Indispensable Man. Please welcome Walter Stahr. [Applause] >> Walter Stahr: Thank you so much for that kind introduction. It is so exciting to be here in this building, which houses some of the critical records on which I based the book. And to be back in Washington and where so much the Stanton story takes place and to finally have the book in print. [Laughter] Who was Edwin Stanton? Why was he important? Why was he interesting? Stanton was the War Secretary for the North during the Civil War. He was Lincoln's military right hand. The man Lincoln referred to in jest as his Mars. And together in Stanton's telegraph office, because there was no telegraph equipment in the White House, the two of them directed the generals, received the reports from the battlefield. Corresponded with governors and average citizens. Made the decisions about how to run the war. Stanton was also the Secretary of War immediately after Lincoln's death running through the first several years of reconstruction. So it was Stanton who organized the manhunt to find those who had killed the president and organized the military commission that tried them here in Washington and the execution of four of them. It was Stanton who turned the union army from a fighting force into an army of occupation in the South. Now in his telegraph office, the daily reports were not about battles, they were about gunshots and rapes and murders in the south. Reading these reports, Stanton believed the army had to stay in the south. President Andrew Johnson believed just as firmly that the army had to leave the south, and it was the conflict between them that led to Johnson's attempt to remove Stanton, which led to the impeachment of Andrew Johnson. If you're interested in impeachment -- and some are these days -- [Laughter] You can't really understand the first impeachment of an American president without understanding Stanton, because he was the cause. He was the guy that the president was determined to get rid of. So that's why he's important, but why is he interesting? Some of you may have heard a rumor he was a lawyer. And I have to confess. He was! So by definition, a lawyer can't be interesting. [Laughter] A few days after Stanton died, George Templeton Strong, the famous New York diarist wrote good and evil were strangely blended in the character of this great war minister. He was honest, patriotic, able, indefatigable, warm-hearted, unselfish, incorruptible, arbitrary, capricious, tyrannical, vindictive, hateful, and cruel. I think that George Templeton Strong had it about right. I think all of those adjectives applied to Edwin Stanton and he was curious mixture of good and evil. That's what makes him such a fascinating, difficult subject for a biographer. And I hope that's what makes him on interesting subject for the reader. Let's back up a bit. Where was he born, what was his family situation, what did he do for a living. He was born in Steubenville Ohio on the banks of the Ohio River in December of 1814. His father died when he was 13. Money was very tight so his mother put him to work in a bookstore. One person remembers him as a good employee with one minor fault. He would be so busy reading his book, that when you entered the store and needed help, he didn't notice you. Money was tight, so he was only able to go to college for three terms, to Kenyon college in Ohio. And then he read law, as one did in those days. There were essentially no law schools. So he read law with a lawyer in Steubenville to become a lawyer. He rapidly succeeded as a lawyer, and he also was very active in politics. Pretty much from the time he was 21. He was a die-hard Democrat. Not a candidate for office very often. He was a candidate only once for the office of county prosecutor. But he gave political speeches. He organized rallies. Wrote resolutions. He went to conventions. I think there's a great book to be written about how the energy that we devote to professional sports was focused on politics in the early 19th century. Because there were no professional sports. People identified themselves not as a Redskins fan, but as an anti-bank Democrat. On the family side, he married relatively young. Mary Lamson, a woman he met through church. They had two children. But then a succession of tragedies. Their year-old daughter died and two years later Stanton's wife Mary died. Two years after that, his beloved brother Darwin commits suicide. He's using his scalpel in a fit of madness. So even before the Civil War, when he's in the war department receiving daily reports of death. Death is a major part of Stanton's life. Leaving his young son behind in the care of his family, Stanton moves to Pittsburgh in 1848. He's tired of sort of small-town law and wants to try something bigger and more difficult. Pittsburgh at the time is a booming, dark, dirty industrial center with a population increasing rapidly. And there's lots of legal work to do. His most famous case involves the Wheeling bridge. A bridge across the Ohio River from Wheeling into Ohio. From the perspective of the residents of Pittsburgh, that was a problem. Because their interstate highway, if you will, was the Ohio River. That was their lifeline to Cincinnati and the world. They were concerned that with this new bridge, the tallest steamboats would not be able to get up the Ohio River and Pittsburgh would be starved and Wheeling would become the center of everything. So Pittsburgh persuaded the state of Pennsylvania to file suit against the bridge company, and Stanton was the principal lawyer for the state of Pennsylvania. And the case, as the New York Times reviewer said, it was a little bit like an American John dice versus John dice. It went on forever and forever and people sort of lived and died and the case was still going on. He came several times to Washington to the Supreme Court to argue different aspects of the case. And in a sense, he lost. The last decision in the Supreme Court was against him. And in another sense he lost. You can go to Wheeling, West Virginia, and the damn bridge, in his words is still there. It's a national landmark, for heaven's sake! But in another sense he won because The steamboats continued to go up and down the river. The city fathers of Pittsburgh feared in terms of city being choked off, didn't happen. Not long after he moved to Pittsburgh, he met Ellen Hutchinson, the daughter of a merchant. And here is the first place, the Archives comes into the story. Because here in this building, in a vault, somewhere upstairs, are the love letters that Edwin wrote to Ellen before they were married. You think about this building as housing merely official government documents. These are not official government documents. They were donated by a descendant, but they are here. I wanted to give you some sense of the riches of what's here. I wanted to read you some quotations from these letters. In December of '54, he writes to her from Washington describing a dinner party. It was chiefly a gentlemen's party, and they were excessively stupid generally. [Laughter] While ladies are present, the conversation is usually upon general or interesting topics, but after their departure, wine and cigars, drinking and eating and politics. Neither elevating nor refining in their tendency ensue. I would never attend such assemblages if it could be avoided. I cannot but contrast the sensations produced by such associations. With the feelings after spending such lengths of time with a cultivated and refined woman like yourself, dear Ellen. In September of 1855 he went to Cincinnati to be part of a legal team that included Abraham Lincoln. And here is one of the letters that's here in the archives from Cincinnati. Last evening I was very anxious for Mr. Harding another of the lawyers had been unwell several days and I was apprehensive he would not be in court, so the scientific part of the case, I had given no attention to, would also fall upon me. Accordingly, by sitting up all night I got ready for it. This morning however, he was much better and acquitted himself so admirably that a great burden is taken from me. One of the things that many people know about Edwin Stanton was that he was rude to Abraham Lincoln in Cincinnati when they first met. The sources for that are generally memoirs from 25 and 35 years later from folks who weren't there who said things like, well, my uncle told me that... So though Stanton was often rude, I'm not sure that he was rude to Lincoln on that occasion. One more quote from the letters. This is the morning that Edwin and Ellen got married. I salute you with a sense of deep and devoted love that this evening will be attested by solemn vows before the world and in the presence of God. With calm and joyful hope, disturbed by no conflicting feeling, quiet and peaceful, I wait the happy hour that you'll witness our union to be thereafter, parted no more, till death part us, living only for each other. You a loving and true wife to me. I a true and devoted husband to you. So when someone says they only have boring official records at the National Archives, you tell them they actually have love letters. [Laughter] After they got married the Stantons moved to Washington, probably so that Edwin could pursue his Supreme Court practice. He started to do some work for the federal government and the attorney general, Jeremiah Black asked him to go to California. The federal government had some major land cases there, and Black felt he needed someone on the ground to represent the United States. Stanton agreed, got on the boat, went to California. Successfully represented the interests of the United States in some major cases, including one in which sort of half of San Francisco was at issue. This is another place where the Archives comes into the picture, because the records of the attorney general provided some of the interesting little details of Stanton's reports back to Black. Black's instructions to Stanton out in California. He returns to Washington just in time to serve as one of the defense lawyers in perhaps one of the most fascinating trials in Washington history, in which Congressman Dan Sickles in broad daylight up in Lafayette square, shoots and kills the son of Francis Scott Key. Stanton and the other defense lawyers get him off, the main reason being that the deceased was having a love affair with the wife of the killer. Stanton argued that by shooting a man sleeping with your wife, you are acting in self-defense. [Laughter] I'm not kidding you! [Laughter] And again, it's so exciting to be right here where so much of the story takes place. It's just up the block at the courthouse that that takes place. Briefly, Stanton is the attorney general under president James Buchanan just before Lincoln becomes president. He takes part in the cabinet debates about what to do about Fort Sumter and then goes back to his private law practice during the first months of the Lincoln presidency. He's critical of Lincoln to Buchanan to others. One saying there's no sign of any intelligent understanding by Lincoln or the crew who groomed about the state of the country or the exigencies of the time. Bluster and bravura alternate with timidity and despair. Recklessness and hopelessness, by turn, rule the hour. What but disgrace and disaster can happen. So he was not a fan of Abraham Lincoln, to say the least. And yet, a couple months later when Lincoln needs a new Secretary of War, he turns to Stanton. Why? Partly it was politics. He wanted to show this was not a Republican war, that this was a union war. And that Democrats like Stanton were welcome and indeed encouraged to play their part in defeating the confederacy. Partly it was that Stanton had a reputation built in part of California as hard-working, diligent, determined, and that was what Lincoln was looking for in a new Secretary of War. He soon proved his reputation right. One of the first things he accomplished was passing legislation that gave the federal government control over the railroads and telegraphs. Lincoln and Stanton could have used that to nationalize the railroads. But that's not what they had in mind. Stanton brought the railroad executives to the war department and said, look, we will work with you. You can remain private companies but you'll basically have to take orders from the war department and charge us low rates. That's how it worked. The most dramatic example of Stanton using the rails and telegraphs comes in the fall of '63, when General Rosekranz and 30,000 federals are threatened in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Stanton summons Lincoln in from the soldiers home where he's spending the night, and others to the war department and says, look, I would like to move in a week's time, 20,000 troops from northern Virginia, where they're not doing much good. [Laughter] And move them all the way to Chattanooga. And Lincoln laughs and says, ha! It would take you a week's time, Stanton, to get them the 30 miles from northern Virginia into D.C. What are you talking about? [Laughter] And Stanton is not amused. He says the situation is far too serious for jokes. And he and others work on Lincoln a bit over some oysters at midnight, and they persuade him to allow Stanton to try. And Stanton then spends the next -- that night and the next couple nights in the war department handling the details. It's almost impossible. You're moving 20,000 men more than 1200 miles using about 8 different rail lines. Some with different rail gauges. You have to get across the Ohio River twice where there are no rail bridges. So you have to organize boats or something to get them across the Ohio River. You have to worry about the possibility of confederate raids and information security. But through sort of Herculean effort, Stanton manages. The troops get to Chattanooga in time, Chattanooga is saved and then those same troops become part of the force that marches the next year on Atlanta. The Archives was again critical in my research in this part of the story. They have right here in this building, the original outgoing telegrams of the Secretary of War. Many of these are in Stanton's own handwriting. He didn't sit down to type an e-mail the way we would. He sat down with a piece of paper and pen and wrote down what he wanted to say to a railroad agent in Grafton, Maryland or the man watching the height of the Ohio River out at the border. Then the clerk would take it and tap it into the telegraph. Stanton carefully preserved every single out-going telegram in a file. And that was really the backbone of my research of this part of the story. Because yes, much of that has now been printed in the official records, but much of it has not. Some of the most interesting telegrams for some reason haven't made their way into the printed record, but they are here available in the Archives available for use on M473, a microfilm publication. I talked about Stanton, the officiant. Let's hear about Stanton the tyrannical. Let's talk about general Charles Stone. A West Point graduate. Not long after Stanton becomes War Secretary he gets complaints from Congress about Stone. And he arranges for Stone to get arrested here in Washington around midnight, carted to a remote fort held in solitary confinement and Stone writes letter after letter wanting to know what the charges are against him and face those charges and a court-martial. There is never a court-martial. Basically Stanton holds Stone until Congress passes a law that could be summarized "release Stone"! Another example. Dennis Mahoney. He's the editor of an anti-administration newspaper in Dubuque Iowa. And when Stanton issues and order authorizing and arrests of those discouraging enlistments, local folks arrest him. Stanton doesn't order the arrest, but he effectively has the keys. He can let him out anytime. The local Democrats nominate Mahoney for Congress as a way of highlighting his plight. Stanton responds by keeping him in jail until after the election. The next year, Mahoney writes a book about his experiences and dedicates it to Stanton saying Stanton had earned the honor through his acts of outrage, tyranny and despotism. So what was his relationship with Abraham Lincoln? In some sense, they're similar. They're both lawyers from the Midwest. They're both anti-slavery. In some sense they're of course, dramatically different. Lincoln is kind and considerate and Stanton is rude and inconsiderate. There's great scene in Spielberg's Lincoln movie set in Stanton's telegraph office. Lincoln after reading some messages is sitting with some admiring aides nearby and Stanton can feel it. He turns to Lincoln and says, you're going to tell another one of your stories. I don't have time for one of your stories, Mr. President! Then he spins around to an aide and demands the statistics regarding some aspect of a transportation problem. I think that's pretty close to right. That Stanton was rude, with everyone, from the hall porter up to the president. And yet, they worked so well together. From the almost -- I don't know, two months after Stanton is appointed, there start to be newspaper calls for Stanton's resignation. And Lincoln ignores them. He ignores them right up until the day of his death. Not long after his death, Lincoln's secretary John Hay, put this well in a letter to Stanton - "not everyone knows as I do how close you stood to our lost leader, how he loved you, and trusted you, and how vain those efforts to shake that trust and confidence Not lightly given,and never withdrawn. So let's turn to April 14th 1865, the night that Lincoln is shot. Stanton hears of the shooting of Lincoln and the attack on Seward at his home on Farragut Square and he rushes to Seward's house first where he finds Seward in a bed soaked in blood with his face slashed by assassin's knife and a half dozen other people in the household stabbed and injured. As soon as he determines Seward is likely to survive, Stanton rushes to Lincoln's side. The Peterson house not far from here. He speaks for a few minutes with the doctors and learns that Lincoln won't live. Goes into the room immediately next to where Lincoln is dying and sits down at a table and starts work. He starts the investigation to determine who did this. He has his aides bringing in some of the witnesses to what happened and takes their testimony. When it proves impossible to scribble out the testimony longhand he sends out an aide and says find somebody who can take shorthand. Soon a crippled war department clerk by the name of James Tanner who happened to live nearby finds himself seated next to Stanton taking shorthand as he interviews these witnesses. But that is not all he is doing, he's sending messages to General Grant to get him back to Washington, to the local military commanders to, in essence, seal off Washington if that can be done. To question anyone who arrived recently. Not just question, put them in jail and ask questions for good measure there. He didn't announce that he was taking charge, he simply takes charge, doesn't announce he's taking charge. Early the next morning, just after Lincoln died, Stanton supposedly says, now he belongs to the ages. I say supposedly, because the first time those words appear in print is 1890. 25 years after Lincoln's death. And if you all think back to things that occurred in your life 25 years ago, and think how precisely you remember people's words. That's a question. If you look at all the various accounts that appeared within days of Lincoln's death they don't mention Stanton saying anything. They say immediately after Lincoln's death everyone in the room got down on their knees. Lincoln's pastor prayed and then people left. So I am reluctantly compelled to conclude that Stanton didn't say it. The most famous words that he ever said, he didn't say. [Laughter] The new president and the carry-over Secretary of War, Stanton, got on well together at first. Indeed it's remarkable reading the newspapers of late 1865, how popular Andrew Johnson was. North and south, Republican and Democrat, everyone claimed Andrew Johnson as their president. It's not until early 1866 when Johnson vetoes first a bill to renew and strengthen the freedman's bureau, which is part of Stanton's war department. And then a civil rights bill, that a split becomes apparent between Johnson and the Republicans of whom Stanton is now one. As I mentioned at the outset, from Stanton's perspective, the key issue is the south and the continued military presence in the south. And again, the telegrams are right here in the building. He's receiving telegrams. One from Alabama describing a 14-year-old girl "ravished and then both ears cut off." One from Texas describing two federal soldiers "dead, shot, in the road, no one knows who did it." And Stanton thinks, as do many, that this means the federal army has to stay down there for a while to keep peace. Johnson originally from Tennessee, feels equally strongly that the federal army has to get out. Finally, in February of 1868, Johnson has had enough, and he sends a letter to Stanton saying you are no longer Secretary of War. Lorenzo Thomas is now the Secretary of War. And you might say OK, he can do that. He's the president, he can fire. But there's a little thing which doesn't exist anymore, called the tenure of office act, passed recently by Congress in an attempt to kind of shackle Andrew Johnson, which says that if someone's appointment requires the consent of the Senate, you, the president, can't fire that person without the consent of the Senate. So there's an up roar akin to maybe what happened when the smoking gun tape was finally released by the Nixon White House. Within days the house has passed a resolution to impeach Andrew Johnson, and then the action moves to the Senate for a full trial presided by Chief Justice Chase of Andrew Johnson on these impeachment charges. Which are all variations on the theme, you acted illegally in trying to fire Edwin Stanton. So where is Stanton when all this happens. He is in the War Department. Stanton is afraid they will try to seize the war department by force and stays there for months. He's not inactive. When general, now representative Benjamin Butler needs help compiling a list of all the positions covered by the tenure of office act, he sends a telegram to Stanton and says can you do this? And Stanton puts his staff to work over the weekend. He's not phased by using federal employees to aid in the impeachment of the president. He's determined if possible to see Andrew Johnson convicted and removed. As most of you know that didn't happen. Johnson survives by a single vote in the Senate. A vote probably purchased with some of the defense money raised for Johnson's legal defense fund. On the day that Johnson finally survives, the last Senate impeachment vote, Edwin Stanton walks out of the war department and best I can tell never returns to that building where he spent so much of time. He spends a bit of the fall of 1868 on the campaign trail for Ulysses Grant. Hoping, first of all, that Grant would be elected Hoping he might get a new appointment and he finally does. In December of 1869, Grant appoints him and the Senate confirms him to a seat on the United States Supreme Court. Sadly, Stanton's health didn't allow him to serve even for a single day. He dies within a couple days of that appointment. He was only 55 years old. Basically worked himself to death during the Civil War. So that is a short version of a long book, which I hope entices you. But let us take some questions. So there are mics on either side. In order to enable posterity to hear, if people would go to the mics rather than just shouting out. I think you're first here on the left. >> Thank you very much. I'm Peter Dickenson, a graduate of Kenyon College. >> Walter Stahr: OK. >> I published a book called old Lincoln and Lincoln's Kenyon men. There was definitely a Kenyon clique. Samuel Chase's uncle founded the college. Some observations, particularly about Andrew Carnegie. I just checked your book, you mentioned him on page 55. Carnegie made a very famous speech about Stanton. I'll talk about that briefly. Davis, I was able to prove this. He was Lincoln's king maker. There are eight telegrams in the Library of Congress. He flipped the Pennsylvania delegation to secure it. He basically stole a nomination from Seward for Lincoln. >> Walter Stahr: I'm sorry, but do you have a question? I need to get -- >> Anyway, I would just say, were you aware of Carnegie's speech? >> Walter Stahr: Absolutely. Indeed, you'll find it in the bibliography. It is quoted. And I love the detail. Here you have this sort of famous major American figure, Andrew Carnegie. He remembers -- he was just a telegraph boy in Pittsburgh in the late 1840s, late 1850s. And he remembers handing telegrams to Stanton and sort of Stanton's nod. And then long after Stanton's death gives a speech at Kenyon, sort of summarizing Stanton's contributions. As you might imagine. Being Andrew Carnegie, he kind of emphasizes what you might call the industrial organizational contributions that Stanton makes during the Civil War. I think we're going to have to circulate through in order to give people a chance. All right. You'll be next, and then you. >> Just a quick question. Stanton and black troops. I understand in 1862, David Lee Hunter, the commanding general of what was left in the union in South Carolina, sent reports back to Stanton, requesting to recruit black troops. >> Walter Stahr: Yes. >> And apparently Hunter wasn't really well liked as I understand it. Lincoln was cold to the idea of recruiting black troops in '62 because he was afraid he was going to lose the border states. So the question I have is what role did Stanton play in the final decision to recruit black troops in 1863? >> Walter Stahr: Thank you for that question, because I actually had intended to talk about that in my main people, and I overlooked it. One of Stanton's great contributions to the war effort is in persuading Lincoln to recruit black troops and then in making it happen. It doesn't just happen of itself. And so even in 1862, not long after Lincoln overturned Hunter's proclamation. Stanton quietly authorizes another general down in that same part of the world, Saxton, to recruit up to 5,000 black troops. It begins even in 1862, before the final Emancipation Proclamation, and continues right up through the end of the war. A concerted effort. Stanton wants black troops not only because he needs the troops, but because he understand the way in which service in the army will change lives of these soldiers and their families. He's also very concerned about those who aren't going to be troops. The women, the children, the elderly. Many of whom are living in difficult circumstances, kind of at the edge of union army camps. And he authorizes first, informally, kind of aid. He organizes a commission to go around and be his eyes and ears to tell him what's going on. And then he pressed his Congress for legislation to create what's called the freedman's bureau. A bureau devoted to looking after the interests of the recently enslaved. On all levels. Just basic care and feeding in some case where they don't have education. He's really at the center of the union efforts both to bring in black soldiers, and to take care of those left behind. I promise to go over there to the right. >> Thank you very much for your words. I'm finding the book to be fascinating. And I look forward to continuing to read it. One thing that I found particularly interesting is reading about Stanton's appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. What my question is, do you know if Stanton offered any indications about what he wanted his judicial legacy to be? >> Walter Stahr: Not having been a judge before he was appointed the Supreme Court, it's hard to say, ah, here's this opinion and here's that opinion. But a number of the important aspects of the Civil War and Reconstruction were going to come up in front of the Supreme Court. So he felt that the Supreme Court was going to say, from oh, 1865-1880, deploy an important role. As it indeed did in interpreting and applying and judging the constitutionality of some of the things done during the Civil War and immediately after the Civil War. So he was very disappointed that Grant didn't nominate him kind of to the Supreme Court right out of the box when Grant became president. He mounted a quiet campaign making use of a bishop and some members of Congress to lobby Grant before the appointment came in 1869. >> Congratulations on completing the book. A huge achievement. Two quick questions. One is in terms of the power over the army, strategy generals, what they were doing. How powerful was Stanton compared to the chief of staff? And do you think he wrote the papers which called for -- >> Walter Stahr: Oh, we could go on about that. So the first question. How did who gets brought from the west to become chief of staff and indeed, technically general of the armies. I view a sort of a glorified first-rate clerk. He was a bit of a disappointment to Lincoln and Stanton, who wanted him to play a more active role in running military strategy. He basically ensured that the paper flowed. That was important in itself. There was a raid in Richmond on January, February, '64. In which Colonel Dahlgren is killed. They find papers that suggest the purpose of the raid was to burn Richmond and to capture or kill Jefferson Davis and the cabinet. The confederates view this as critical evidence that Lincoln and Stanton are violating the rules of war. They are prepared to sort of burn a civilian city, capture civilians. Unfortunately, we don't have here in the Archives, or anywhere else, sort of chain of correspondence that sort of proves that Stanton or Lincoln authorized these instructions. Although I think it's not not improbable that Stanton, because of this family friendship did have some conversations with Dahlgren. I think most scholars today accept that, at least this was Dahlgren's vision of what he wanted to do. The debate is how much higher in the union organization this vision went. >> During the succession of winter, President Buchanan I thought took the stand that the secession was illegal, but he could do nothing about it. Was that his stand. And moving the troops out of Virginia to Chattanooga. What was the relationship between garret and Stanton in that movement. >> Walter Stahr: Let me take the last question first. Hope I remember the first one. John garret was the president of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad. So he was one of -- remember I mentioned Stanton brought the railroad executives to Washington at the outset of his term and said look we're going to work together. Stanton and garret worked very well together through the war. Including in the Tennessee troop movement. So one of the telegrams that's not in the official records that I thought was really nice. Stanton sends a message at about 11:00 at night to garret and a couple others saying come here immediately. Then he has this midnight meeting with Lincoln and gets back to the telegraph office. And there's a telegram from garret saying when you say immediately, do you want to see me at 2:00 a.m.? [Laughter] And Stanton sends back a note to the headquarters of the BNO in Baltimore and says no, the morning will be sufficient. But you can sense from some of the telegrams that Stanton and garret had already been toying with this idea of a rapid rail movement. Because another telegram that I found, the response from garret says fine, I'll be there in the morning. I will bring with me the documents we've been discussing. It doesn't say exactly what that is, but to me that suggests they would already been planting it. Garret and his people are absolutely critical. The BNO is the longest leg of that journey. So they get great credit for it. But I think if garret were here today and said who organized the whole thing, not just the BNO piece, he would say my friend Edwin Stanton. Now I've talked so long I forgot -- Buchanan. Stanton and Buchanan disagreed quite a bit about what should be done in the succession winter. With Buchanan leaning towards giving up Fort Sumter and the other southern Fort Sumter and Stanton telling him to his face, if you do that, you will be a traitor and your name will go down in history with Benedict Arnold. He was not man to mince words. >> I had an interest in the freedman's bureau and its role in developing schools in the south and elsewhere. Especially on the theological and normal schools. Virginia union, and Hampton institute and others. Most of those efforts at least involved a deep cooperation between Christian mission agencies. I was just curious, Stanton's blessing of that or affirming or helping that to happen? >> Walter Stahr: Maybe I should back up a bit and say that Stanton himself, although he didn't go to church every Sunday morning, was Episcopalian. There was throughout the war, in various fronts, not just in dealing with the freedman, fairly close cooperation between religious organizations, charitable organizations and the federal government. In dealing with wounded soldiers, in dealing with the education of those sort of disrupted by the Civil War. And people didn't spend a lot of time sort of looking at the first amendment and saying, oh, gee, I don't know if we can do this. They just -- they were willing and ready to work with whoever was there. So yes, the early education of the former slave children was really kind of a cooperative effort between religious groups and the federal government. And Stanton was very involved. Indeed, one of the bits of the book I love most. He goes down to the south in very early '65 and spends a night in Beaufort, South Carolina with a couple missionaries. And the young women recalled years later that Stanton sat by the fire with them and read poetry into the night. These young Boston missionaries remembering 25 years later how the great tyrant war secretary knew poetry. >> Nice. >> Walter Stahr: Over here. >> Thank you very much. About the Johnson impeachment. Two questions. One, other than occupying the war department, filibustering in the war department. Was Stanton public on the impeachment? Did he weigh in with senators? And secondly, I recall when John Kennedy wrote [Away from mic] and courage, he cited a Kansas senator who was the deciding vote and dubbed his action profile. >> Walter Stahr: First, what else did Stanton do during the impeachment time? Was he involved in trying to persuade senators to vote against Johnson? Yes. Stanton was friendly, for example with Senator Fessenden of Maine. And Fessenden was one of the Republicans who was thought to be kind of on the border line. It wasn't clear whether he was going to vote with or against Johnson. So Stanton wrote some letters and provided an appointment for one of Fessenden's sons and then when he hears that Fessenden is going to vote against Johnson, Stanton writes in some letters to his friends about the traitoress, Fessenden. So yes, he is involved in the efforts to persuade senators. Senator Ross of Kansas, no less than president John F. Kennedy, included him in his profiles encourage book as a courageous senator because he had voted against the impeachment. And he was really one of the very last senators -- as I mentioned earlier, it's pretty clear when you trace the money, as my friend David Stuart has done in his book about the 1868 impeachment. When you follow the money to use that Watergate phrase, it's clear some of it ends up in the pockets of senators like Senator Ross. I agree with Dave us when he says of Senator Ross, he should not be placed in the pantheon of heroes, those who accept money for Senate votes. >> I'm not used to perfect cabinet members. If you were to identify the two or three biggest failings of Stanton, what would they be? >> Walter Stahr: Oh, gosh. Two or three biggest failings of Stanton. Well, first comes to mind the sort of civil rights and in terms of arresting folks and leaving them to languish in prison. Another big mistake early in his tenure, he, like a lot of folks, he thinks that McClellan is about to capture Richmond and that will end the war. So he suspends the recruiting process. That was a big mistake, because he should have recognized that when you had an army of nearly a million men. At that point, about three quarters of a million. You need a continuous flow of people in order to replace those who die, desert or get sick. I don't know it would change too much, but it was a serious error. I guess another sort of broad category would be in his relations with other cabinet members. He didn't play well with others as someone said at one of my events recently. The diary of Gideon wells, the original at the Library of Congress, almost every page includes "and today Stanton ..." there's almost nothing in there that's nice or positive about Stanton. And you can understand why. Because from the perspective of Wells, the secretary of the Navy, Stanton views the Navy as if it was sort of subsidiary to the war department. Whereas in fact, at that time it's its own independent department. >> When Jefferson Davis was caught, there was a rumor that he was caught in a dress. And this interested Stanton and he ordered the dress to be delivered to him immediately. When it arrived, it was only a poncho. My understanding was he had a dress makers form, dressed up and photographed and given to the press. I was wondering if that story was apocryphal or early war department disinformation. [Laughter] >> Walter Stahr: I think the bit about the photograph is certainly apocryphal, because photography was at such an early stage. There were certainly no photographs on the war department staff. That was not part of what the war department was. There was Matthew Brady's studio here. What I do know is that he received the reports from Georgia that he was caught in women's clothing. And he simply relayed those reports to the press. So in a sense, what happened here in Washington when the clothing arrived, didn't matter much. Everyone in America "knew" that Jefferson Davis was captured in women's clothing, because of Stanton, perhaps imprudently, but he simply was relaying -- he made it a policy when news arrived from the front, to relay it to the newspapers. He simply followed that policy in this instance, relaying what he heard, which was erroneous, but it was what he heard, from those who captured him. And I see Mr. Swanson saying time's up. So thank you all for coming. [Applause] >> Don't forget there's a book signing one level up. National Archives Bookstore. We'll see you up there in just a couple minutes.


United States Supreme Court Justices

# Justice Seat State Former Justice Nomination
active service
active service
1 Nathan Clifford 2 Maine Benjamin Robbins Curtis December 9, 1857 January 12, 1858 January 12, 1858 July 25, 1881

District Courts

# Judge Court
[Note 1]
Began active
Ended active
1 John Cadwalader E.D. Pa. April 19, 1858 April 24, 1858 April 24, 1858 January 26, 1879
2 Asa Biggs D.N.C. May 3, 1858 May 3, 1858 May 3, 1858 April 23, 1861
3 Rensselaer Nelson D. Minn. May 20, 1858 May 30, 1858 May 20, 1858 May 16, 1896
4 Wilson McCandless W.D. Pa. February 3, 1859 February 8, 1859 February 8, 1859 July 24, 1876
5 Matthew Deady D. Ore. March 7, 1859 March 9, 1859 March 9, 1859 March 24, 1893
6 William Giles Jones M.D. Ala.
N.D. Ala.
S.D. Ala.
January 23, 1860 January 30, 1860 September 29, 1859[2] January 12, 1861
7 William Davis Shipman D. Conn. February 28, 1860 March 12, 1860 March 12, 1860 April 16, 1873

Specialty courts (Article I)

United States Court of Claims

# Judge Nomination
Began active
Ended active
1 Edward G. Loring May 3, 1858 May 6, 1858 May 6, 1858 December 14, 1877
2 James Hughes January 12, 1860 January 18, 1860 January 18, 1860 December 1, 1864



  • "Judges of the United States Courts". Biographical Directory of Federal Judges. Federal Judicial Center. Archived from the original on 2016-07-30. Retrieved 2009-04-03.
  1. ^ All information on the names, terms of service, and details of appointment of federal judges is derived from the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public-domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  2. ^ Recess appointment; formally nominated on January 23, 1860, confirmed by the United States Senate on January 30, 1860, and received commission on January 30, 1860.


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