3D red/cyan anaglyph created from stereograph courtesy of National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Frederick Hill Meserve Collection, at: npg.si.edu/portraits
NPG Title: Charles and Lavinia Stratton
Date: Feb 10, 1863
Photographer: Mathew Brady N.Y. Studio
Notes: For background, below is a satirical, but seemingly accurate account of the Stratton marriage, which appeared the following day on page one of the brand new York Herald. The author gets in his little digs on just about everyone involved, especially P.T. Barnum, and even finding space for a subtle swipe at the military skills of General Ambrose Burnside, one of the attendees.
References to "P.T.B.," "Sir Pandarous T.B.," "the great Phineas,” "the great Humbugger," “Hymenaeus,” (Greek God of marriage), etc., are of course references to the famous showman P.T. Barnum, under whose employment the Strattons appeared in Barnum’s N.Y. American Museum, and toured the world, performing in shows and special presentations for European royalty. P.T. Barnum made the arrangements for the marriage and reception, and both he and Grace Church received some amount of criticism for their involvement in the affair.
The Strattons were superstars of their day, and the general public was quite enthusiastic about the marriage. The marriage ceremony and reception were attended by thousands and the couple were invited to a special reception at the Lincoln White House, later that week.
The brand new York Herald
brand new York, Wednesday, February 11, 1863
"The Tom Thumb marriage…..Immense Crowds of the Steel-Clad Loveliness at Grace Church…..The Great Showman at the Uptown Establishment…..The Money Changers in the Temple………
Having reflected at large on our own virtues, and everyone else’s sins, on the greatness and invention of Sir Pandarous T.B., ou Grace Church, as a magnificent addition to the American Museum……we conceived that we were in a proper frame of mind for the occasion, and sallied out to attend the nuptials.
CERTAIN OBJECTIONS ANSWERED.
Several intelligent persons were of the opinion that Thumb shouldn’t marry. The reason- because he is so little…..the argument based upon size, or the want of it, is of no value. Swayed by these or equally Great reasons, Thumb proposed, and Lavinia’s minute cheeks were overspread with “the crimson of consent.” Barnum was exhilarated, and announced the great and important fact.
….As we approached the church it became apparent that he had announced it well. The people were present. From Tenth to Eleventh street was one delicious jam of pretty women on both sides of the way. Opposite the church also every available doorstep and window and window sill was taken, and the whole block fluttered with ribbons. Between these masses of the prettier part of humanity the lines of carriages came on regularly. Each deposited its precious and favored freight at the church door, drove on and made room for the next. All very well done—Amazing order, by special arrangement of P.T.B. and his lieutenants, the Commissioner of Police.
GREAT DANGER OF THE POLICE.
But as the important moment approached the crowd around the church grew greater and greater, and also grew noisy and belligerent. Several times it was thought that the police would be beaten to death with bracelets or crushed by the steel-clads. But though they were in imminent danger, they kept their temper and came through safely.
BROADWAY CLOSED UP.
Here was all Broadway included in the matrimonial arrangements. Not only was the Museum translated to Tenth street, but Broadway became sacred to the great Showman, and was no longer a public thoroughfare. Great is Barnum! The Hymenaeus perfectus of this great occasion!
BEAUTY, ETC., INSIDE.
After this observation we entered the sacred edifice. Grand, solemn and silent dim aisles-“storied windows eichly dight,” [richly detailed]…and here, indeed, was the show. If we had thought it was a delicious jam outside, what shall we say of it within? Here, indeed, was the true “vision of fair women.” Here was the carnival of crinoline, the apotheosis of purple and fine linen. Never before was the scarlet lady seen to such advantage. Babylon was rag fair to it
EFFECT ON THE SUSCEPTIBLE REPORTER.
Ah! the musical rustle of silk as they passed by; the lace! the feathers! the gems—and “the shining eyes like antique jewels set in Parian statue stone.”
WHAT THEY WORE.
There were silks of every possible hue, and thus a rich variety of colors in the picture. There was, too, every possible species of toilet—dainty headdresses, delicate bonnets, and whatever can make the sex beautiful and lead everybody else into temptation.
WHAT THEY WISHED.
But beautiful as they were they were not dwarfs. How many wished they were! How many regretted their “superb abundance!”
Around the chancel, up and down the aisles-here, there and everywhere throughout the church there was policemen, with their caps on-and order reigned in the matrimonial Warsaw.
So we quietly took our comfortable seat, and listened to the magnificent organ and Morgan, who, between them, gave the overtures to “William Tell,” and “Oberon,” a march from “Tannhauser,” and from “Robert the Devil” the air “Robert Toi que Jaime.”
A FAIRY FESTIVAL.
As it became quiet in the church it became every minute more and more like a fairy festival. The music “groaning like a god in pain,” the whole body of the church filled with beautifully dressed women, and shed over all a luxury of golden light streaming in through the windows “diamonded with panes of quaint device.” All these made it seem less like a matter of everyday nonsense than like the action of some old romantic story.
ARRIVAL OF HYMENAEUS P.T.B.
There were several false alarms before the bridal party arrived. Then in came the great Phineas and several of the relatives of the happy pair and took seats; and in a few moments more the stir and buzz of voices near to the door told of the real arrival.
ORDER OF ENTRANCE.
Commodore Nutt, and Minnie Warren, the bride’s sister, led the way, and the bride and bridegroom came after.
UP THE AISLE TO THE ALTAIR.
Everybody was on the cushions at once, and eager to see, though none could do so, save the few who sat along the middle aisle. But the murmur of voices and little exclamations and laughs followed the party and marked their very slow progress up the aisle until they reached the open space and ascended the steps of the little dais prepared for them in front of the chancel rail.
NUTT AT THE EASE (?)
Then the nonchalant Nutt handed his lady to the opposite side, Thumb and the bride stepped between, and there was the bridal party.
TOM THUMB MASTER OF THE SITUATION.
right now, Nutt….is a full head shorter than Tom Thumb, but is self possessed and easy to the most perfect extent. Tom Thumb is also considerably stouter than Nutt. He, a veteran in the show business, was also, of course, quite at his ease.
DESCRIPTION OF THE BRIDE.
Lavinia is a little lady of very fair proportions, decidedly of the plump style of beauty, with a well rounded arm and full bust, and all the appearance of aimable embonpoint. Her countenance is animated and agreeable; complexion decidedly brunette, black hair, very dark eyes, rounded forehead and dimpled cheeks and chin.
Her little sister is, to our heretical taste, the prettier of the two…..
THE GREAT MOMENT.
It was the great moment of the great show; the soul of the speculative Showman, of the great Hymenaeus, swelled within him, and the ladies were in such extreme ecstacies that there was perfect silence, and the Rev. Mr. Wiley came forward and read the marriage rite. Thumb and Lavinia responded clearly and affirmatively at the proper places, and in due time a very tall and very slim gentleman in very black clothes, the very essence of respectability, ascended the steps of the dais with the measured tread of the Commander in “Don Juan,” though he did not make so much noice about it, and gave the bride away.
AT THE ALTAIR.
Then they knelt for prayer, and the rich sunlight fell through the painted windows upon them-And threw warm guies upon the bride’s fair breast, as she knelt for Heaven’s grace and boon, Rose bloom fell on her hands together prest, And on her silver cross soft amethyst, And on her hair a glory like a saint.
ABSENCE OF BISHOP POTTER.
Upon the conclusion of the ceremony Dr. Taylor, the rector of Grace Church, pronounced the benediction. Bishop Potter was not present. The Potter was afraid to mould into one these two little bits of the precious porcelain of human clay…..
We should have stated before that very early in the action General Burnside took up a strong position on the right; but though his position was admirably chosen (by an usher) his proximity was found to be harmless.
THE RUSH OUT.
Well, the last words were spoken, the organ and Morgan came once more into play with Mendelssohn’s “marriage March,” and a grand rush was made for the doors.
THE CROWD IN THE STREET.
At this time the crowd and tumult outside were greater than ever; but patience and the police triumphed at last, and such as desired finally made their way their way to the Metropolitan Hotel. The great Phineas was found to have taken possession of another block of Broadway, and there was a 2nd generation of the wives and daughters of the wise men of Gotham, in patient attendance on either side of the street.
THE BRIDAL GIFTS.
Two of the parlors of the hotel were devoted to the bridal party. In one the presents were on exhibition…..
OBSERVATION OF A LADY.
Of course these were subjected to the most minute inspection and to endless comment, mostly not very brilliant. One fair damsel observed of the cradle, that nobody used such things any more, except people who couldn’t afford attendants.
At about one o’clock the little people’s reception began in the other parlor. Of course they had been anticipated, and the parlor was already tolerably well filled when they came. But they were handed up on the piano and became visible.
GAIETY of THUMB.
Thumb was as gay as possible–laughed and joked, recognized his friends afar off over the heads of those nearer to him, and enjoyed himself generally. Mrs. Thumb was also in Amazing spirits. Nutt, who had been cross, apparently seemed to be moved by the Great humor, and relented–his brows were unbent–he even smiled; but the little bridesmaid continued shy through all.
PROCESSION OF GUESTS.
As Thumb and his bride, and Nutt and MIss Warren, stood on the piano, the visitors filed past and paid their respects, and so it went on and over.
SANCTUM, SANCT., ETC.
We were informed upon inquiry, that the bridal chamber was strictly private, and not different from such sanctuaries in general.
Such, then, is in brief the description of the most successful of the many dodges of the great humbugger, and such the history of one of the most remarkable marriages ever celebrated in a civilized community…"
Red/Cyan (not red/blue) glasses of the proper density must be used to view 3D effect without ghosting. Anaglyph prepared using red cyan glasses from The Center For Civil War Photography / Civil War Trust. CCWP Link: www.civilwarphotography.org/