Lot 125: Signed Photo of Union General Sickles, First to Use "Temporary Insanity" Defense
Presidential Letters, Free Franks & Speeches: Washington to Bush + Important Autographs in History, Science & the Arts
26 October 2016
New York, NY, USALive Auction
Description: SICKLES, DANIEL EDGAR. (1819-1914). Controversial politician and Union general. SP. (“Maj. Gen. D. Sickles” and again on the verso, “Maj. Gen. D Sickles, U. S. Army, Photograph taken in 1866.”) 1p. CDV. N.p., 1866. A sepia head-and-shoulders portrait by Matthew Brady of Sickles in a uniform. ********** Although he did not have a military background, Sickles, a New York congressman, became a prominent officer during the Civil War. He recruited many New York regiments including the Army of the Potomac’s Excelsior Brigade, but his insubordination at the Battle of Gettysburg and the loss of his leg ended his military career. In congressional hearings held after the battle, Sickles defended his actions while disparaging Major General George G. Meade. ********** Prior to his checkered military career, Sickles’ personal life had been rife with scandal. In 1852, against the objections of both their families, he married a teenager, Teresa Bagioli, (granddaughter of Lorenzo da Ponte, Mozart’s librettist), who was half his age. While she was pregnant, he openly consorted with a prominent New York prostitute named Fanny White, presented her to Queen Victoria while he impersonated a political rival and brought her into the New York State Assembly chambers, which led to his censure. In 1859, in a park across from the White House, he murdered the son of Francis Scott Key, U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, Philip Barton Key II, a flirtatious widower who Sickles discovered was having an affair with his wife. Sickles’ attorney, future Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, successfully employed the first-ever defense of “temporary insanity.” ********** After the war, Sickles oversaw aspects of Reconstruction and resumed his congressional career during which he helped preserve the battlefield at Gettysburg. A noted bibliophile, Sickles served as minister to Spain from 1869-1874. ********** Signed with a feathered signature on the lower photographer’s mount and signed, again, on the verso. With light wear and bearing a light Brady ink stamp on the verso. In fine condition.