The Secretaries of State: Portraits and Biographical Sketches

The Secretaries of State: Portraits and Biographical Sketches

The Secretaries of State: Portraits and Biographical Sketches

The Secretaries of State: Portraits and Biographical Sketches

Excerpt

Gradually through the past century the Department of State has accumulated a collection of portraits in oils of the former Secretaries of State. This collection is but little known, however, and owing to the Department's lack of suitable space for its display it is not readily accessible. The present publication makes available for the first time reproductions of the portraits in this collection. The reproductions are arranged chronologically according to the terms of service of the Secretaries of State; and each reproduction is accompanied by a biographical sketch of the Secretary and by a brief statement regarding the artist and the portrait.

The Department's collection of portraits includes a painting of each Secretary of State from Thomas Jefferson, who took office in 1790, to John Foster Dulles. For five of the Secretaries, Daniel Webster, Abel P. Upshur, John M. Clayton, William H. Seward, and William M. Evarts, the collection includes two portraits. In addition, there is a portrait of John Jay, who took office as Secretary for Foreign Affairs under the Continental Congress in 1784 and who continued unofficially to superintend the Department of State, after the Constitution went into effect, until Jefferson entered upon his duties as the first Secretary of State. (The Department has no portrait of Jay's predecessor, Robert R. Livingston, the first Secretary for Foreign Affairs under the Continental Congress, 1781-1783.) The collection does not include portraits of Secretaries of State ad interim or Acting Secretaries of State. In the case of one Secretary ad interim, however, namely Alvey A. Adee, the Department possesses an oil portrait which it received as a gift (see appendix A, "Secretaries of State Ad Interim"). All the portraits that have been mentioned are reproduced in the present publication except the second portrait of John M. Clayton, which is omitted because of its imperfect condition. This portrait and also five portraits of persons other than Secretaries of State are described in appendix B, "Notes Regarding Other Oil Portraits Belonging to the Department of State".

Although, in accordance with custom, Mr. Dulles' portrait will not be hung in the Department of State until after his retirement from office, his portrait has been painted for the collection, and it is reproduced in the present publication.

The Department's collection of oil portraits of the Secretaries dates from 1861. Before retiring from office on March 5 of that year, Jeremiah S. Black, Secretary of State under President Buchanan, arranged for the purchase from the artist John Pope of a large portrait of Daniel Webster; and the portrait was paid for on April 12, 1861 . . .

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