"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Benjamin Franklin Stephenson

This bas-relief portrait of Dr. Benjamin Franklin Stephenson, M.D.  (1823–1871) hangs on the front, south side, of the Grand Army of the Republic monument in Indiana Plaza a small park in Washington, DC. Dr. Benjamin Franklin Stephenson founded the Grand Army of the Republic,  a fraternal organization of Union veterans, on April 6, 1866 in  Illinois. It grew to be the largest and most influential post civil war veterans organization. Stephenson had been  surgeon of the14th Illinois Infantry during the Civil War.  

Grand Army of the Republic 
Organized at Decatur Illinois, April 6, 1866.
By Benjamin Franklin Stephenson M.D

The motto of the GAR is “Fraternity, Charity and Loyalty” and those elements are represented on the Monument.




This striking 1884 depiction of Dr. Stephenson in full GAR regalia features the GAR Medal that also appears on the monument. (LOC)

Grand Army of the Republic
1861 Veteran 1866

The Brooklyn Public Library has this drawing of Dr. Stephenson, though as they say, “There is no known connection between Dr. Stephenson and Brooklyn, New York.”  

It closely resembles this c1888 photo in the Library of Congress.

He appears considerably older in this photo published in the Washington Star in 1944, accompanying an article in which John Clagett Proctor identifies then 97 year old John Montgomery Kline as the last surviving member of the GAR's Department of the Potomac.  The GAR officially dissolved on August 2, 1956 with the death of Albert Woolson the last member of the GAR.

Dr. Benjamin Franklin Stephenson, founder of the Grand Army of the Republic

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