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[Portrait of John Willis Menard] (LOC) | by The Library of Congress
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[Portrait of John Willis Menard] (LOC)

Leeson, W. H., photographer.


[Portrait of John Willis Menard]


[New Orleans, Louisiana] ; [W.H. Leeson], [between 1868 and 1870]


1 photograph : albumen print on card mount ; mount 10 x 6 cm (carte de visite format)



Photograph shows a head-and-shoulders portrait of political activist and author John Willis Menard (1838-1893). In 1868 Menard became the first African American elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Louisiana's 2nd Congressional District. The election results were contested by his opponent, Caleb S. Hunt, resulting in Congress denying Menard his seat. However, on February 27, 1869, Menard did become the first African American to address the chamber. When the House Committee on Elections could not make a final determination on the election challenge, the case went before the entire House of Representatives who, on February 27, 1869 suspended its rules to allow both Menard and Hunt to address the chamber. Only Menard spoke. After debating the issue, neither Menard nor Hunt could gain enough support to be seated. The vote for Hunt was 41 in favor to 137 against. For Menard, it was 57 in favor and 130 against. Congressman and future president James A. Garfield, is reputed to have said that "'it was too early" for an African American to be admitted to Congress. (Source: NMAAHC)

Title devised by Library staff.

"J. Willis Menard"--written on front of photograph. DLC

The photographers backmark is altered. The name "Swymmer" and the street address has been crossed out in pen. DLC

"167 Poydras Street," another Swymmer and Leeson studio location (between 1868 and 1869) is written in ink on back of the card. DLC

"Swymmer & Leeson"--on album page below photograph. DLC

Photograph is housed in an album. Album page has a double lined border, printed in red ink surrounding the edges of the card, framing the print. DLC

Please use the digital image in the online catalog to preserve the original photograph.

Collection of the Library of Congress and the National Museum of African American History & Culture.

Purchased by the Library of Congress and the National Museum of African American History and Culture; Swann Galleries; 2017.

Formerly owned by Emily Howland. DLC

Forms part of the Emily Howland photograph album, p. 37.



Menard, John Willis,--1838-1893.


Format: Portrait photographs--1860-1870.

Albumen prints--1860-1870.

Cartes de visite--1860-1870.


Rights Info: No known restrictions on publication.


Repository: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA,


Part Of: Emily Howland photograph album (DLC) 2017656258


Higher resolution image is available (Persistent URL):


Call Number: LOT 15020, p. 37


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