Archive for the ‘George Peter Alexander Healy’ Tag

Portraits: James Buchanan   Leave a comment

A daguerreotype of James Buchanan

James Buchanan (1791 – 1868)

The 15th President of the United States, 1857 – 1861

AKA: Old Public Functionary

From: Pennsylvania

College: Dickinson College

Married to: never married (the only President to never marry)

Children: none

Party: Democratic

Previous Jobs: Lawyer, US Congressman, US Senator, Secretary of State, Minister to the United Kingdom

In His Words: “All agree that under the Constitution slavery in the States is beyond the reach of any human power except that of the respective States themselves wherein it exists. May we not, then, hope that the long agitation on this subject is approaching its end, and that the geographical parties to which it has given birth, so much dreaded by the Father of his Country, will speedily become extinct?”

“I am the last President of the United States!”

“Sir, if you are as happy in entering the White House as I shall feel on returning to Wheatland, you are a happy man indeed.” (said to Abraham Lincoln on the day of his inauguration)

“Liberty must be allowed to work out its natural results; and these will, ere long, astonish the world.”

“What is right and what is practicable are two different things.”

Not true: Historical figures are often appropriated to fulfill a political agenda in today’s society.  Such is the case with Buchanan, who has been called the first gay President.  This allegation is unproven.  Circumstantial evidence is there (He never married!  He liked to gossip!  He lived with another man!).  However, he also had his heart broken by his fiance who died suddenly after breaking the engagement (suicide?).  Lots of questions here, and no definitive answer.  Was he gay?  We don’t know.  Was he heterosexual?  It appears so, though we don’t have the “proof” of a marriage and children. So, for me, I’ll simply say it is unproven that he was gay.  Some additional thoughts are below, under the “More” section.


James Buchanan was born in a log cabin and there were 11 children in his family.

Minnesota, Oregon and Kansas joined the Union during his Presidency.  Unfortunately, 7 states seceded:  South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, George, Louisiana and Texas.

Buchanan is frequently cited as the worst President, since he did not resolve the issue of slavery (just like his predecessors!) and did not prevent the secession of the South.

The Official Portrait: This red, white and blue painting was done by George Peter Alexander Healy in 1859.  So what’s going on with his hair? James Buchanan, Official White House Portrait



New York Times

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Portraits: John Quincy Adams   4 comments

John Quincy Adams (1767 – 1849)

Adams was the first (ex) President to be photographed, in 1843 … though there are claims that Harrison was photographed in 1841, no proof exists.

The 6th President of the United States, 1825 – 1829

When Adams sat for this portrait, he doubted that artist George Caleb Bingham could produce “a strong likeness.” Ralph Waldo Emerson commented that the aging Adams was “like one of those old cardinals, who as quick as he is chosen Pope, throws away his crutches and his crookedness, and is as straight as a boy.”

AKA: Old Man Eloquent or The Abolitionist

From: Massachusetts

College: Harvard College, class of 1787

Married to: Louisa Adams

Children: Charles Francis Adams, Sr, George Washington Adams, John Adams II, Louisa Catherine Adams

Party: Federalist, Democratic-Republican, Whig

Previous Jobs: secretary, lawyer, state senator, senator, diplomat, Secretary of State

In His Words: “Civil liberty can be established on no foundation of human reason which will not at the same time demonstrate the right of religious freedom.”

“The manners of women are the surest criterion by which to determine whether a republican government is practicable in a nation or not.”

“America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.”

Not true:  Adams’ service to the United States became an issue in the 2012 Presidential race, 183 years after he died.  Michelle Bachmann famously declared that our founding fathers “worked tirelessly to end slavery.”  When  journalists called Bachmann on being inaccurate, she cited John Quincy Adams as one founding father that was an example of what she meant.  In spite of his unprecedented international experience at a very tender age, it does seem to stretch credibility to call him a founding father, as he was only 9 years old in 1776.  It is true that he railed against slavery while serving in the House of Representatives, but he was not a steady advocate for abolition until after he was President.

True: He served in the diplomatic service at the age of 13 as the secretary to the US envoy to Russia.  He later was one of the secretaries to Jefferson and Franklin, helping them draft the documents confirming US independence from Great Britian.  He was barely 16.

In the 1824 Presidential election, he did not win the popular vote, nor a majority of the electoral college.  Because no candidate won a majority, he was eventually selected as President by the House of Representatives.  Adams had been a brilliant diplomat, but proved to be an idealistic and inflexible President.  He followed his father’s unfortunate example as the 2nd President to only serve one term.

He’s the only President to serve in the House of Representatives after he left the White House.

The Official Portrait:

George Peter Alexander Healy was one of the most prolific portrait artists of his day.  He painted 18 Presidents, from John Quincy Adams to Ulysses S Grant.  Some of his other famous paintings were of Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, Pope Pius IX and John James Audobon.

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