|Benjamin Drew (1812-1908) was an abolitionist native to Plymouth, Massachusetts. He was an active participant in the work of the Underground Railroad. |
In 1856, Drew published an influential book entitled A North-Side View of Slavery. The Refugee: Narratives of Fugitive Slaves in Canada Related by Themselves. The book was highly unusual in that Drew interviewed former slaves who had escaped to Canada, and then published their accounts (including the one by Harriet Tubman) more or less in their own words. The book is still in print, and it can also be viewed in its entirety online here.
Drew wrote his book in part as a response to another book, one published by Nehemiah Adams, A South-Side View of Slavery; or, Three Months at the South in 1854. Adams, a northerner, wrote a defense of what he deemed to be the moral benefits of slavery for the slaves themselves and against the radicalism of abolitionism that would threaten the unity of the nation. A complete scan of the Adams book may be read online here.
The paper pasted on the inside cover of the case reads as follows: "Benj. Drew (3rd), Born Nov. 28, 1812. This picture taken in Plymouth, when he was about 25. For Chas. Davis Drew. From his Grandpa Drew, Oct. 7, 1877."
So, it seems this photograph was given as a present by Benjamin Drew himself to his grandson Charles. But Drew could not have been 25 in this image, because that would have been in 1837, and the announcement of the invention of photography was not made until 1839 in Paris, and the art was not brought to the United States until 1840. The date of this image is closer to 1845, making Drew about 33 here.
A portrait of Drew taken in 1900 may be viewed here.