James Stanton: What Happened to Edwin Stanton’s Son?

Apple TV+’s ‘Manhunt’ follows the aftermath of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the subsequent manhunt for John Wilkes Booth and his co-conspirators. With the Secretary of War Edwin Staton at the forefront of the story, we find out how he and his team tracked down Booth and his accomplices and brought them to justice. In between all this, we also get a glimpse into Stanton’s personal life and how his demanding job keeps him from his family so many times. In one instance, we see his wife alone at the grave of their son, James. What happened to him? How did he die?

James Stanton Died in Infancy

James Stanton was born to Edwin Stanton and Ellen Maria Hutchinson on October 17, 1861, and died on July 10, 1862. He was just eight months old and was laid to rest at Oak Hill Cemetery. The reason behind his death remains uncertain, but his loss was a cause of grave grief to his parents, especially to his father, who had already been through a streak of personal losses.

Edwin Staton lost his father at a young age, and years later, his brother died by suicide. He also lost his young sister soon after. Two years after their wedding, his first wife died in childbirth, which reportedly left Stanton mad with grief. But despite this terrible series of losing loved ones, he continued to be dedicated to his work and country.

In 1856, Stanton married Ellen, and after having a daughter, she gave birth to a son, whom they named James. He was born when the American Civil War was raging and, as the Secretary of War, Stanton had barely any time left for his family. In this already hectic time, Stanton was losing friends and acquaintances to the bloodshed of war. The loss of his infant son at such a time was bound to take a greater toll on him.

As shown in the Apple TV+ series, Edwin and Ellen Stanton grieved their son for years, visiting his grave on his death anniversary. The show tweaks the timeline by a couple of days (little James died on July 10 while Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 14), but the scene of Stanton being unable to join his wife at their son’s grave serves the purpose of showing how much Stanton was invested in his role and dedicated to serving the country despite his own personal grief. Stanton kept his deceased son in his heart his entire life, and when he died, he was interred beside James’ grave.

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