Stanton: The Life and Times of Lincoln's Secretary of War

By Benjamin P. Thomas; Harold M. Hyman | Go to book overview

EPILOGUE
A NOTE ON THE HISTORY OF STANTON BIOGRAPHIES

STANTON'S death, far from quieting his enemies, gave them new voice. They became bitter at the praises lavished on the man in eulogies across the country, and determined, as a friend of Jeremiah Black's stated it, that "the bones of Stanton should rattle in their grave." Manton Marble set the theme in a New York World obituary on Stanton: "All men die and death does not change faults into virtues."

Black took on the role of architect of an anti-Stanton tradition. Within weeks after Stanton's burial, he published a series of articles which questioned his former friend's veracity, integrity, and consistency. These articles, wrote Ward Hill Lamon, were "such a portrayal of vice, corruption, and sycophancy, that it sickens the heart to contemplate the state of morals in high places."1

The abuse being heaped on the memory of his father sickened the heart of Edwin Lamson Stanton. This brilliant young man was emulating his father in his swift advancement in the law. Grant favored him with a federal attorney's commission, and by the early 1870's he numbered even Andrew Johnson and Montgomery Blair among his private clients. Knowing the truth of his father's relations with Black, and wanting to correct the errors that General Sherman broadcast in his published memoirs, young Stanton decided to write a life of his father.

But like his famous parent, Stanton's son devoted himself to material advancement ahead of almost any other consideration. Although he collected as many of his father's papers as he could in preparation for

____________________
1
World, Dec. 25, 1869; Lamon to Black, Jan. 31, and J. Harvey to same, Oct. 2, 1870, Black Papers, LC.

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