11 Historical Figures photographed in the 19th Century

11 Historical Figures photographed in the 19th Century

From famous inventors to pioneering politicians, the 19th century was an era of some of the most influential figures in history. Back in then, photography was a relatively new thing, so it’s mind-blowing to see the likeness of famous historical figures being captured by camera.

Featuring everything from world-renowned scientists to powerful politicians, here is a look at 10 historical figures that were photographed nearly two centuries ago. These historical figures lived long enough to be photographed, and have been immortalized in time.

1.John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adams was the first US president to be photographed, as well as the earliest known photo of a US President to still exist, though he wasn't in office at that time. This daguerreotype of the 6th President was photographed in 1843 when he was 76 years old, 14 years after the end of his presidency and five years before his death. It was a German artist who has made the historical pictures using the exciting new photographic technique.

Adams was born in 1767 and served as the sixth president of the United States of America. His presidency ran from 1825 to 29. While his performance in office was not especially remarkable, Adams is thought of as having been a decent president.

2.Charles Darwin

During that time, photography was still a relatively new invention, and the process of taking a photo required a great deal of time and effort. As a result, most people in 19th-century rarely had their portrait taken. Nevertheless, Darwin was one of the few exceptions to this rule.

Charles Darwin was born in 1809 and is often cited as the 19th century’s most influential naturalist. His book On the Origin of Species presented a wealth of evidence he had gathered on the range of variation among domesticated animals and wild species. Darwin’s influence went beyond the scientific community.

His life had spanned the development of photography. Above was his daguerreotype photography around 1854. Despite this, it’s likely Darwin was not even aware photographs of him existed.

3.Samuel Wilson aka “Uncle Sam”

Born in 1766, Samuel Wilson was a meat packer from New York City who supplied beef to the U.S. government during the War of 1812. During that time, he was said to have supplied “Uncle Sam” with meat, which gave him the title of Uncle Sam. He was thought to have had a long white beard and a large belly. Uncle Sam was a national personification of the American government for most of the 19th century.

The real person Wilson was photographed sometime in the 1850’s as above, which is considered the only known real photograph of him.

4.Daniel F. Bakeman

While relatively unknown, Daniel F. Bakeman was born in 1769 and was the last living Revolutionary War soldier, as well as one of very few to live through the Civil War at his time. The rare half-length portrait was taken in 1868, when he was one hundred and nine years of age - one year before his death. Following the war, he married Susan Brewer and had 8 children, and spending the remainder of his life as a farmer. In the picture, the old soldier seated, holding a cane. It’s hard to imagine all the things he experienced in his long life.

5.Frederick Douglass

Douglass was an American social reformer, abolitionist, writer and orator, and one of the most prominent advocates for African American rights in the United States in the 19th century. In 1838, he escaped from slavery and travelled to Massachusetts where he published the narrative of his life, "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave." The book became a bestseller and was widely acclaimed, furthering the cause of abolitionism. He died on February 20, 1895, in Washington, D.C. and was buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery.

He was photographed some time between 1847 and 1852. He was also one of the most photographed man and politicians of the 19th century, leaving more than 160 portraits and photos. Douglass was very conscious to be photographed and almost never smiled, by which he thought was a way to emphasize dignity and power.

6.John Tyler

John Tyler was born in 1790 and He was the 10th President of the United States and served from 1841 to 1845. President Tyler was a firm believer in states’ rights. While he signed into law the Indian Removal Act, which authorized the forced relocation of Native American tribes from the Eastern U.S., he privately opposed it. President Tyler also set in motion the process that led to the annexation of Texas, which was finalized in 1845.

He took office after the death of William Henry Harrison and his term as president was marked by alienation from both political parties. When he died on January 18, 1862, he was the last Vice President to have served under a President from the Revolutionary War era. His portrait was first photographed in 1845.

7.Emily Dickinson

Born in 1830, Emily Dickinson is undoubtedly one of the most well-known poets in history. She was born on 10th of November 1830 in the town of Amherst, Massachusetts. She was considered as a recluse and she spent about 40 years of her life hiding from public view. Only about 10 of her nearly 1800 poems were published during her lifetime.

Until now, we’ve only had one authenticated photo of the nineteenth century poet taken when she was only 16 years old.

8.Henry McCarty aka Billy the Kid

Henry McCarty, born in 1859 better known by his nickname Billy the Kid, was a famous outlaw and gunslinger who tried to live outside the laws of the land and society, but ended up dying for it.

He robbed trains and killed eight men in New Mexico in the late 19th century. Almost spending most of his life on the run from the law, he was finally captured and convicted in 1881, and was sentenced to death by hanging.

On the day of his execution, he asked to have his portrait taken. His request was granted and the image of the outlaw would become his final likeness, and one of those photos became one of the most iconic images in American history.

9.Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln served as the sixteenth president of the United States and is widely regarded as one of the most well known politicians in history. Born in 1809, Lincoln’s early life was spent in poverty, farming and working on the family farm, splitting logs, and hunting to supplement the family’s income. As a young man, Lincoln moved to Illinois in 1831, where he worked as a statesman and lawyer before becoming president.

Lincoln was photographed several times in his life but the first known photo is taken in 1846 when he was 37 years old.

10.Franklin Pierce

Franklin Pierce was the fourteenth president of the United States from 1853 to 1855. Born in 1804, Pierce Pierce was a lawyer, private secretary, and legislator in New Hampshire before becoming active in politics in the Democratic Party. He was not well-liked when he was alive. He opposed the abolition of slavery and favoured laws that discriminated against African Americans and was critical of Lincoln when he was in office.

He was photographed around 1855.

11.Grigori Rasputin

Born in 1869, Rasputin was a Russian mystic and self-proclaimed holy man who held considerable influence in the internal politics of Russia in the early 20th century. He claimed to have healing powers and was renowned for his ability to ease health problems and cure disease. He also claimed to have the ability to predict the future. Though the fame he has, he was considered as a very controversial figure in Russian history. Some people believed his powers were genuine while others thought he was nothing more than a fraud.

On the night of 29 December 1916, Rasputin was lured to a meeting with Russia's elite where he was poisoned, shot, and finally drowned in the icy Neva River. His corpse was subsequently mutilated and discarded in a field outside the Russian capital of Saint Petersburg. Public opinion at the time suggested that Rasputin's demise was welcomed, since he was perceived as a threat to Russia's future.

He was photographed shortly before his death.