“Broken Relic”

I am doing some Stanton reading today, and as often happens, I find something about Seward to report.

I am reading The Impeachment and Trial of President Andrew Johnson, by David Miller DeWitt, published in 1903.  DeWitt was a New York Democrat, sympathetic to Johnson, hostile towards Stevens, Sumner and the other Radicals.  Since almost all modern accounts are hostile to Johnson, DeWitt is welcome balance.  And although DeWitt was much younger than Seward and Stanton, born in 1837, he knew these men.  I think there is a fair chance, for example, that he was in New York City Hall in August 1866, when President Johnson spoke and Secretary Seward listened.

Seward, according to DeWitt, sat “almost immediately beneath his own portrait as governor of the state that hung on the wall.  The contrast was striking and in some respects mournful.  The picture was a full-length representation of a tall, slender, agile, clean-looking figure, in the prime of manhood, which seemed about to spring out of the canvas.  The figure below, huddled together in its seat, wrinkled, untidy, the face swollen and red, the cheek and drooping jaw deformed by a jagged scar, looked like the broken relic of the young Apollo that stared at it from the frame.”

For those interested, DeWitt’s book is available from archive.org, the quote is on pages 114-15.