Edwin McMasters Stanton - Facts

December 19, 1814 - December 24, 1869

Key facts about United States Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton.

Portrait of Edwin Stanton

On February 24, 1868, the U.S. House of Representatives impeached President Andrew Johnson, in part because he attempted to fire Edwin Stanton and replace him with General Lorenzo Thomas. [Wikimedia Commons]

Full Name:

  • Edwin McMasters Stanton

Birth Date:

  • December 19, 1814

Birth Location:

  • Steubenville, Jefferson County, Ohio


  • David and Lucy Norman Stanton


  • Kenyon College (1831-1833)


  • Attorney
  • politician

Career Summary:

  • U.S. Attorney General
  • U.S. Secretary of War


  • Mary Ann Lamson (1836)
  • Ellen Hutchinson (1856)


  • Mars

Place of Death:

  • Washington, DC

Date of Death:

  • December 24, 1869

Place of Burial:

  • Oak Hill Cemetery, Washington, DC


  • Edwin Stanton was the firstborn of seven children of David and Lucy Norman Stanton.
  • As a youth, Edwin Stanton became an avid reader after he developed asthma at age ten, which prevented him from participating in strenuous activities.
  • Edwin Stanton was forced to leave school to help support his family after his father died in 1827.
  • Edwin Stanton attended Kenyon College, where he excelled for two years before being forced to leave in 1833 by financial difficulties,
  • Edwin Stanton studied under his mother’s lawyer, Daniel L. Collier.
  • In August 1835, Edwin Stanton passed the Ohio bar exam; although at age twenty he was not yet old enough to practice law in the state.
  • Edwin Stanton married Mary Ann Lamson on December 31, 1836.
  • By 1837, Harrison County voters elected Edwin Stanton to the office of county prosecutor as a Democrat.
  • Mary Ann Lamson died on March 13, 1844.
  • In 1842, the Ohio General Assembly appointed Edwin Stanton to the office of reporter for the Ohio Supreme Court.
  • In 1847, Edwin Stanton moved to Pittsburgh, where he opened a law practice with Charles Shaler.
  • In 1855, Edwin Stanton crossed paths with Abraham Lincoln when the pair served as co-counsel in the case of McCormick v. Manny. Unimpressed with the backwoods lawyer from Illinois, Stanton derisively referred to the future president as a “long-armed creature.”
  • Edwin Stanton married Ellen Hutchinson on June 25, 1856.
  • In 1858, Edwin Stanton represented the federal government in a series of land disputes in California, reportedly saving the government vast tracts of land, further enhancing his legal reputation.
  • In 1859, Edwin Stanton served on the legal team that used a plea of temporary insanity to gain an acquittal for U.S. Congressman Daniel Sickles who was charged with murdering his wife’s lover. This marked the first successful use of the plea of temporary insanity to escape a murder charge in United States history.
  • Edwin Stanton served as U.S. Attorney General during President James Buchanan’s administration from December 20, 1860 to March 4, 1861.
  • After the Civil War began, Edwin Stanton criticized Abraham Lincoln’s leadership, citing the “painful imbecility of Lincoln.”
  • After President Lincoln decided to replace his Secretary of War, Simon Cameron, in January 1862, he nominated Edwin Stanton who had been serving as an advisor to Cameron.
  • Edwin Stanton served as President Lincoln’s Secretary of War from January 20, 1862, until the President’s death on April 15, 1865.
  • Edwin Stanton served as President Andrew Johnson’s Secretary of War from April 15, 1865, until May 26, 1868, when he resigned.
  • Despite Edwin Stanton’s low opinion of Lincoln prior to joining the cabinet, he soon became one of the President’s more trusted advisors.
  • Throughout the Civil War, Edwin Stanton kept the Union armies well equipped while aggressively curbing graft and corruption.
  • Edwin Stanton’s arrogant, obstinate, harsh, and ruthless demeanor created enemies amongst the generals, caused friction within the cabinet, and alienated state governors, members of Congress, and the press.
  • In his zeal to save the Union, Edwin Stanton used his powers to curb free speech, authorize arbitrary military arrests, and deny citizens access to the courts by hauling them before military tribunals.
  • As the war progressed, Edwin Stanton switched his allegiance to the Republican Party.
  • Edwin Stanton embraced the Emancipation Proclamation, which transformed the war from a constitutional struggle to a moral cause. He also supported enabling African-Americans to fight for their freedom by promoting the use of black troops in the Union armies.
  • In April 1865, President Lincoln refused to accept Edwin Stanton’s resignation.
  • On the night President Lincoln died after being struck down by assassin John Wilkes Booth, Edwin Stanton openly wept at the President’s bedside.
  • After Lincoln’s death, Edwin Stanton led the crusade to bring John Wilkes Booth and his co-conspirators to justice.
  • In April 1865, Edwin Stanton lobbied to reject the surrender agreement William T. Sherman offered to Joseph E. Johnston and went so far as to accuse Sherman publicly of treasonous ambitions in the New York Times.
  • In 1867, the U.S. Senate refused to approve President Andrew Johnson’s attempt to suspend Edwin Stanton and replace him with Ulysses S. Grant on an ad interim basis.
  • On February 24, 1868, the U.S. House of Representatives impeached President Andrew Johnson, in part because he attempted to fire Edwin Stanton and replace him with General Lorenzo Thomas.
  • Edwin Stanton resigned as Secretary of War on May 26, 1868.
  • Despite his failing health, Edwin Stanton actively supported Ulysses S. Grant’s candidacy in the presidential election of 1868.
  • President Ulysses S. Grant nominated Edwin Stanton for a seat on the United States Supreme Court on December 20, 1869. The U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination on the same day.
  • Edwin Stanton died at his home on December 24, 1869, at the age of fifty-five, four days after being confirmed for a seat on the U.S. Court.
  • Following a state funeral attended by the highest dignitaries, Edwin Stanton was interred at Oak Hill Cemetery in Washington, DC, on December 27, 1869.

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  • Article Title Edwin McMasters Stanton - Facts
  • Date December 19, 1814 - December 24, 1869
  • Author
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 13, 2024
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update January 12, 2024