The United States Army has evolved during more than two hundred years from the assorted volunteer elements of a weak confederation of colonies into the composite and balanced standing force of a leading world power. Its evolution has paralleled the social, economic, political, and geographical development of the nation. In the opening struggle for independence, the middle period of continental expansion, and the modern era of international operations, the Army has played a constant and substantive role in American history. Today the Army acts in concert with the other military services to protect the nation and carry out American policies at home and around the world.
The Army’s senior official is its civilian secretary, who conducts its affairs subject only to the direction, authority, and control of the President of the United States as commander in chief and the Secretary of Defense who represents the chief executive as head of the Department of Defense.1
The principle of civilian control over the military took root early in colonial America under the stewardship of legislators who, "mindful of classical examples of caesarism and praetorianism, and with the spectacle of Cromwell’s military dictatorship arising before them," were determined that such absolute forms of government—especially those of a military complexion—would not gain a foothold in the new land.2
As the sentiment for independence came into focus in the closing decades of the eighteenth century, the framers of the Constitution of the United States codified the concept of civil direction over military affairs by assigning to the Congress the power to raise and support armies, make rules for the government and regulation of the land forces, and declare war. In addition the President was given the role of commander in chief of the Army and the Navy and the state militia when called into federal service.
The United States Army was created in June 1775 when the Continental Congress authorized the muster of troops under national auspices and appointed George Washington of Virginia to command them. The Continental Army was administered initially by the Congress, and the creation of an executive military department with carefully defined powers and responsibilities became a lengthy process of trial and error. In June 1776, for example, the Congress established a Board of War and Ordnance composed of five legislators, the lineal ancestor of the War Department. John Adams chaired this congressional committee for more than a year. In July 1777 the Congress established a new Board of War composed first of three and then of five individuals who were not members of Congress. Horatio Gates was named to head it, and served during the winter of 1777–1778.
Further change came in the fall of 1778 when Congress again rearranged the board to consist of two legislators and three outsiders. Timothy Pickering and Richard Peters, two of its members, both signed documents as President during 1779–1780, although neither had been appointed to the office. Then in 1781 the Congress set up a War Office, staffed it with non-legislators, and appointed Benjamin Lincoln to head it with a new title, of British origin, Secretary at War. Henry Knox succeeded him in 1781.
Despite these efforts to provide direction and control over the Army, during the 1780’s the Congress often acted upon military matters as a committee of the whole or through special subcommittees, independent of the Board of War and the Secretary at War. Yet there was an unmistakable trend in the direction of a separate military department. All that was needed was the formalization of the executive branch of government and the installation of a chief executive.3
On 30 April 1789, George Washington became the first President of the United States under the new Constitution. Three months later, on 7 August 1789, Congress established a Department of War, changed the title of the department head from Secretary at War to Secretary of War, and made that official directly responsible to the President rather than to the Congress. Henry Knox remained in office to become the first Secretary of War.
Another major change in the designation of the department and its executive head came 158 years later with the passage of the National Security Act of 1947. Under this legislation and its 1949 amendments, the Air Force was removed from the Army to become a separate and equal military department, the Army, Navy, and Air Force were brought under a national military establishment headed by a civilian of cabinet rank, and the service secretaries lost cabinet status while their institutions were reduced from executive agencies to military departments within a Department of Defense. The War Department became the Department of the Army, certainly a less bellicose and more precise designation that comprehended its peacetime as well as its wartime role in the military and societal structure. The Secretary of War became the Secretary of the Army, and incumbent Kenneth C. Royall presided over the transition to become the first Secretary of the Army.
In its more than two centuries of service to the nation, the Army has had, by and large, a distinguished body of civilian leaders. A majority of the secretaries studied and practiced law before entering public service. Many moved on to higher public office, and their contributions extended beyond the military sphere. James Monroe and William Howard Taft both achieved the office of President of the United States. John C. Calhoun reached the vice presidency, and Jefferson Davis held a unique office—President of the Confederate States of America.
Nine of the Army’s chief executives served also as Secretary of State, three were Secretary of the Treasury, two Postmaster General, and one Attorney General of the United States. William Howard Taft’s tenure as Secretary of War was followed by his election to the presidency; he then moved over from the executive to the judicial branch of government to become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Another secretary, Edwin M. Stanton, was nominated by President Ulysses S. Grant to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court, but Stanton died before he could take office.4
Twenty-one secretaries served in the United States Senate and eighteen in the United States House of Representatives, while nineteen served in state legislatures. Twelve were state governors; one was a territorial governor; and four served as Governor General of the Philippines. Fifteen held diplomatic posts, two were university presidents, and many served at federal and state levels in a variety of other capacities. Henry L. Stimson holds the distinction of being the only one to have served two nonconsecutive terms as Secretary of War, one (1911–1913) under President William Howard Taft, the other (1940–1945) under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. As the nation entered its third century, Secretary Clifford L. Alexander took office, the first black to head the Army department. Forty of the sixty-nine individuals who have been Secretary of War or Secretary of the Army saw military service, principally in wartime. Jefferson Davis, John M. Schofield, and Howard H. Callaway were graduates of the United States Military Academy, and John W. Weeks was a graduate of the United States Naval Academy. Three other secretaries—Charles M. Conrad, John B. Floyd, and Luke E. Wright—served in the Confederate forces during the Civil War. Michael P. W. Stone served in the British Royal Navy during World War II.
There are two father-son combinations in the roster of Secretaries of War: Simon Cameron (1861–1862) and James D. Cameron (1876–1877); and Alphonso Taft (1876) and William Howard Taft (1904–1908). Another secretary, Robert Todd Lincoln, was the son of a president, and George W. and William H. Crawford were cousins. It is engaging to note that Joel R. Poinsett gave us the lovely Christmas flower, poinsettia, while Dwight F. Davis sponsored the Davis Cup, a cherished prize in international tennis competition.
The general course of continental development is reflected in the state residency of secretarial appointees (not necessarily their native states). Most early selections came from the New England–Middle Atlantic regions; as settlement spread, there were more nominees from southern and western states. Over the two centuries, New York tops the list with ten appointees. Massachusetts and Pennsylvania are next with six each, while Virginia provided five. Tennessee, Ohio, and Illinois have provided four apiece. Georgia and West Virginia each contributed three of the Army’s civilian leaders. Six states—Maryland, South Carolina, Kentucky, Iowa, Michigan, and New Jersey—have had two appointees each, and finally, Louisiana, Minnesota, Vermont, Missouri, Oklahoma, Utah, Kansas, North Carolina, Arkansas, Wisconsin, and California largely confirm the westward trend with one apiece.5 Secretary Alexander is the first appointee from the District of Columbia.
War Department headquarters has always been located at the seat of government. In the early years of the republic, when the government functioned initially in New York and later in Philadelphia, the department rented modest quarters in private buildings. In New York City, for example, with the Revolutionary War ended and British troops withdrawn, the War Office shared quarters with the Foreign Office in Fraunces Tavern at the corner of Great Dock (now Pearl) and Broad Streets, the site of Washington’s farewell address to his officers in 1783. The government’s outlay for space to accommodate two of its key, albeit small, departments was a modest $812.50 per annum. In May 1788 the offices moved to a house on lower Broadway.6
In December 1790, when the federal government moved to Philadelphia, Secretary Henry Knox established his headquarters in Carpenters’ Hall, a building the department had occupied while the Confederation Congress was convened in Independence Hall before the move to New York City and the inauguration of constitutional government. The War Department moved in 1791 to adjacent New Hall for a year, then in 1792 to the southeast corner of Fifth and Chestnut Streets in a building that was one of a block of houses called Norris Row. After a four-year residence there, the department moved again in 1797, this time to one of the row houses on the northeast corner of Fifth and Chestnut Streets. Here the headquarters remained until 1800, when the government moved to the new capital at Washington.7
Not long after taking office in 1789, President Washington had begun to plan for a new and permanent capital. Throughout most of his tenure he personally attended to the selection of the site, the purchase of the land, the design of the city, and the construction of the public buildings. Only six months after his death in retirement in December 1799, his successor, President John Adams, moved the government to Washington City on the banks of the Potomac River.8
George Washington’s plan for an executive quarter centered around the President’s House had begun to take shape in 1798 with the start of construction on the first two of four similar buildings, to be located on sites about two hundred yards from the corners of the executive mansion. The southeast and southwest structures were completed in 1800, and the War Department occupied space in the southwest unit with several other agencies, while the Treasury Department occupied the southeast unit. Early in their occupancy, both buildings had serious fires that forced the tenants out to rented quarters during a period of reconstruction. The Army headquarters operated on several occasions from private accommodations along the south side of Pennsylvania Avenue between Twenty-first and Twenty-second Streets, a row-house complex sometimes called the Six Buildings.
The government’s key departments resumed operations in their rebuilt structures for a dozen years until disaster struck once again during the War of 1812: British forces invaded the capital in 1814 and burned the government buildings to the ground. The War Department again resumed operations in private quarters while the capital was being reconstructed. By 1817 the damaged structures had been rebuilt, and by 1820 the entirely new northeast and northwest buildings had been added to the executive grouping. The northeast unit was now occupied by the Department of State, the southeast by the Department of the Treasury, and the southwest by the Department of the Navy. Secretary John C. Calhoun moved the Department of War into the new northwest building, taking along the name War Office for the new edifice, an identification that would later become "Old War."9
As the Army’s responsibilities were gradually enlarged, the War Department had to expand its staff and facilities to meet both normal growth and the surges created by wartime activity. Because of the expense and delay inherent in new construction, during the Mexican War Secretary William L. Marcy turned to lease arrangements with private builders, while during the Civil War Secretary Edwin M. Stanton secured sufficient funds to add two floors to Old War. Two floors and a wing were added to Old Navy at the same time.10 Yet, as the years passed it was evident that some major new construction was needed, and the subject was under continuing consideration within the department and elsewhere in the executive and legislative branches of government over an extended period.
In the closing weeks of 1869, the Congress established a commission to select a suitable site and prepare plans for a new executive office building and, in 1871, began annual appropriations for such a structure. Wing-by-wing construction was begun in June 1871 at a site to the west of the White House, near existing northwest and southwest buildings. Progressive demolition of the old buildings was geared to construction of the wings of the new building, and evacuations and occupancies by departmental personnel were carefully phased with construction schedules to ensure optimum use of facilities. The south wing was completed first, in July 1875, and occupied by the State Department. In 1879 the Old War Department building was demolished as the east wing of the new structure was completed, and War and Navy department staff members moved in. Although he had been closely associated, as a department head, with the design, planning, and construction of the State-War-Navy Building, Secretary of War William W. Belknap was not destined to run his department from the new headquarters. That distinction fell to Secretary George W. McCrary, Belknap’s successor thrice-removed.
Early in 1888, almost seventeen years after the start of construction, the mammoth State-War-Navy Building was fully completed at a cost slightly greater than $10 million. Under congressional space allocations the War Department initially "occupied all the north, west, and center wings and shared the east wing with the Navy and the south wing with State and Navy."11
Expansion of government agencies is a natural concomitant to national growth; as a nation’s population and territory grow, political, economic, and social responsibilities multiply, and the various arms of government must expand to keep pace. Agencies seem to constantly outgrow their accommodations, and rarely are the larger departments concentrated in one location or a single building. Fifty years after settling down in the State-War-Navy Building on the west side of the White House grounds, the War Department was being gradually displaced by an expanding State Department and was petitioning for its own building.
Noting that his agencies were occupying seventeen separate buildings throughout the city and that the State Department was scheduled to take over all of State-War-Navy, Secretary George H. Dern in his annual report of 1934 emphasized that "The need for a new War Department building is pressing, and its erection should be undertaken without delay." As if to dramatize the plea, Harry H. Woodring, who as under secretary succeeded Dern upon the latter’s death in August 1936, moved the Secretary of War’s office out of State-War-Navy and into the Munitions Building on Constitution Avenue, a "temporary" structure left over from World War I. Both the Secretary and the Chief of Staff kept the pressure on, and in his 1938 report, General Malin Craig addressed the subject. Speaking to the demands of efficiency, he emphasized that "A fundamental requisite for the successful conduct of war is that the directing elements of the military machine be closely and mutually articulated permitting prompt decisions and their coordinate actions." General Craig warned prophetically that "In the event of a major war one of the first steps that would have to be taken would be the reconcentration of the major elements of the War Department in a single building."12
A valid philosophy and an urgent need coincided all too soon as World War II broke out in Europe and the prospect of United States participation loomed ever larger on the horizon. By the end of fiscal year 1941, yet a few months short of American involvement in the war, Secretary Henry L. Stimson, still quartered in the Munitions Building, could report that the space situation had been "somewhat improved by putting into service the New War Department Building on Twenty-first Street, but this was in no way adequate to house all of the personnel." Under emergency conditions, plans for a new building were prepared, a site was selected on the Virginia side of the Potomac River across from the Washington Monument and the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials, and construction proceeded apace as the nation became ever more deeply involved in the global struggle.13
The new building was completed in January 1943, just beyond the midpoint of American participation in the war. Called the "Pentagon" for its five-sided configuration, the building was constructed at a cost of about $83 million. Secretary Stimson was the first executive to run the department from the new headquarters. By the nation’s bicentennial year of 1976, however, although the Pentagon was still the Army’s command post, organizational evolution in the military had made the Army a tenant with the other armed services which together constitute the Department of Defense—the Pentagon’s proprietor since the parent department was established in 1949.14
As the world’s largest office building, the Pentagon draws its share of attention in the congeries of public buildings and monuments in the nation’s capital. Visitors to its five floors, arranged in five concentric rings and connected by ten corridors radiating from the inner hub, are exposed not only to an architectural marvel but also to a variety of exhibits that represent the military heritage of America. One feature is the Army’s "Portrait Gallery" of Secretaries of War and Secretaries of the Army. The gallery represents a unique and valuable collection of paintings of the Army’s civilian leaders from earliest times to the present.l5
Credit for conceiving and launching the gallery belongs to President Grant’s Secretary of War, William Worth Belknap. Looking ahead from the vantage point of the early 1870’s, Belknap fastened upon the idea of a secretarial portrait gallery as an appropriate way for the department to mark the nation’s centennial in 1876. It would not be an easy task; few of his predecessors had had their portraits painted, and even those portraits might be in private possession and out of reach. Thus most of the gallery had to be created from scratch.
For his own portrait, Belknap sat in 1874 for Daniel Huntington, a distinguished portrait, historical, and landscape painter of the day. Most of his predecessors were painted at Belknap’s behest during 1873, 1874, and 1875, the bulk of them by three artists who had to work in most instances from existing paintings or family photographs rather than from life. Huntington produced nine, Robert W. Weir—instructor in drawing and professor at West Point—produced seven, and German-born and German-trained Henry Ulke produced five. With the arrival of the centennial year and Belknap’s departure from office under a cloud, the War Department Portrait Gallery was a going enterprise that could be updated portrait by portrait by Belknap’s successors. This has, indeed, happened.16
As the gallery was expanded to cover key officials from a century of operation, it was not limited to secretarial principals alone, but also included several ad interim secretaries and other officials prominent in the conduct of military affairs. The portraits were executed, in large part, by eminent artists. In addition to Huntington, Weir, and Ulke, they included Walter M. Brackett, a Boston painter and the younger brother of sculptor Edward A. Brackett, who painted Secretaries Pickering, Dexter, Dearborn, and Eustis; George P. A. Healy, a prominent portraitist of statesmen, who painted General William T. Sherman; John Wesley Jarvis, one of the foremost portrait painters of the early nineteenth century in New York, who portrayed Secretary Calhoun; and James Harvey Young, a successful Boston artist, who painted Secretary Henry Knox as well as his predecessor, Secretary at War Benjamin Lincoln. All in all, the quality of the series is commendable when it is remembered that it has been attended by complications, spans a full two hundred years, and is marked by an evolution in both fashion and artistic style.
Because portraiture is a subjective matter involving ego, individuality, and perception as well as creativity, style, and technique, secretarial sitters and painters have not always achieved harmonious results—this despite the fact that the secretaries have traditionally selected their own portraitists. This is not unusual among public figures; in a recent notable instance, Lyndon Baines Johnson openly expressed his discontent over artist Peter Hurd’s portrait of him as the thirty-sixth President of the United States.
Problems related to secretarial portraits occasionally involved not only the subject but also his family. Mrs. Daniel S. Lamont, for example, did not like Raimundo de Madrazo’s portrait of Secretary Lamont, and in 1912, seven years after her husband’s death, she asked the War Department if it could be exchanged for another. Although the Lamonts had added $2,750 to the War Department’s standard $750 fee to retain Madrazo, the portrait had become government property upon submission, and the Judge Advocate General ruled that Congressional action would be required to dispose of it in any manner. The situation was resolved when Mrs. Lamont retained Samantha Huntley to paint a new portrait and presented it to the War Department. Secretary Stimson then acceded to Mrs. Lamont’s wishes by hanging the Huntley in the gallery and storing the Madrazo.17
The circumstances were somewhat different for Secretary John W. Weeks. He described his portrait as "so satisfactory to my family that they decided they wanted to retain it," so Mr. Weeks arranged for another portrait to represent him in what he noted was sometimes referred to as the "Chamber of Horrors."18
The cost of secretarial portraits has risen steadily through the years. Except for the $500 that James Harvey Young received for his portrait of Henry Knox, the $525 that Henry Ulke received for his portrait of Edwin M. Stanton, the presentation of John Armstrong’s portrait, and the transfer from West Point of John C. Calhoun’s portrait, the War Department paid $300 for all portraits up to and including Secretary Belknap’s. For the portraits of Alphonso Taft through George McCrary, the going rate was $500, while for Robert Lincoln through Russell Alger the portraitist received $750. Elihu Root’s portrait by Madrazo cost $2,000, and this departure from scale introduced an element of fluctuation that has existed to this day, with prices ranging from $750 to $2,000 in the earlier years of the twentieth century and increasing to $7,500 in modern times. Artists’ fees have been influenced by such factors as the market’s trend, the subject’s prominence, and the artist’s renown.19
The Army’s secretarial portrait gallery has not functioned in a military vacuum or without surveillance from the art world. In 1931, for example, the members of the American Federation of the Arts, meeting in annual convention and sensitive to the fact that foreign artists like Raimundo de Madrazo and Douglas Chandor were getting the prestigious secretarial commissions, passed a resolution recommending that "all portraits designed for display in a [government] Department building in Washington shall be painted by American artists of recognized standing; that such portraits shall be in oil, of a suitable size, and shall be framed in a simple frame of good design. Also that in each building wall space shall be set apart for the display of portraits, and that a means be taken to bring existing portraits into as much order as may be possible, with regard to size and framing, to the end that the requirements of history, of good order, and of good taste shall be promoted. . . ."20
It was perhaps a misnomer to call the War Department’s secretarial paintings a "Portrait Gallery" and tie the gallery almost exclusively to the executive portraits, for the Army’s total art collection included earlier acquisitions and other categories of work, either commissioned by or purchased for the Army. Through the middle years of the nineteenth century, for example, the Army acquired a series of portraits of Indian chiefs done mostly by Charles Bird King, a series of Mexican War paintings by James Walker, and a series of Civil War etchings by Edwin Forbes. In acquiring these, and other works, the Army demonstrated that, despite organizational and custodial alterations through the years, it perceived the value of art as history and recognized that military art is at once a contribution to the Army’s heritage and a tool of morale and esprit.21
The thousands of items in the Army Art Collection today represent a variety of regions, periods, and subjects, and constitute a unique body of documentary art. The portraits of the department’s secretaries provide substance and foundation in this collection of national as well as military and service significance.22
As the United States celebrated its bicentennial in 1976, the specter of inflation was abroad in the land and the high cost of government was a central issue for candidates in the quadrennial presidential election. The new administration had been in office only a few weeks into 1977 when attention turned to the subject of cabinet members’ portraits as a possible area of economy.
Three months after taking office, President Jimmy Carter issued a directive to department heads ordering that the custom of commissioning portraits of outgoing agency heads be stopped: "As I understand it, past Cabinet Secretaries have commissioned oil portraits, at Government expense, as a method of maintaining an official, historical record of the line of succession of Cabinet Secretaries. Although the practice has existed for over a century, these portraits have become an unnecessary luxury costing anywhere from $6,000 to $12,000. . . . Therefore, I ask that you discontinue this practice and in the future use color photographs to record the line of succession."23
President Carter’s ban on the commissioning of oil portraits of cabinet secretaries at government expense remained in effect until the eve of his departure from office. As a result of the proscription, the portraits of Carter administration department heads were done in the photographic medium. Assembled in a special exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington prior to placement in their respective collections, they inspired mixed critical reaction in the nation’s press and periodical literature. Whether for this or other reasons, President Carter on 19 January 1981, only twenty-four hours before his departure from office, authorized a return to the traditional custom of contracting for oil portraits to record the line of succession in government departments. Since then the portraits of Secretaries Alexander, Marsh, and Stone have been painted and added to the secretarial portrait gallery in the Pentagon.
It is interesting to note that a bicentennial appraisal of the Army’s secretarial portrait collection placed its value at many times its original cost. Indeed, because of date, subject, or artist, some of the portraits may be said to fall in the category of national treasures.
More than two hundred years ago, George Washington expressed the belief that, "The Instituting of a War Office is certainly an Event of great importance, and, in all probability, will be recorded as such in the Historic page."24 The first President’s observation has been borne out largely because of the efforts of a long line of distinguished secretaries at the head of the department. This book introduces them in consecutive order, with a brief biographical sketch and a portrait of each incumbent.
Notes to Introduction
1. Title 10, United States Code, subtitle B, part I, contains the statutory provisions concerning the organization of the Army and the powers and responsibilities of the secretary.
2. Russell F. Weigley, History of the United States Army (New York: Macmillan Co., 1967), p. 6.
3. Maurice Matloff, ed., American Military History (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1969), p. 55. During gaps in the incumbencies of Gates, Lincoln, and Knox, continuity of operations was ably maintained by Joseph Carlton, who served as administrative assistant in the Board of War and Ordnance, the Board of War, and the Department of War. For a general treatment of the organization and operation of the War Office, see Harry M. Ward, The Department of War, 1781–1795 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1962).
4. As the nation’s third century opened, former Secretary of the Army Cyrus R. Vance was confirmed as Secretary of State in the administration of President Jimmy Carter, becoming the ninth Army secretary to also hold the State portfolio.
5. States are listed in the order in which secretarial candidates from them were appointed. New York receives credit for two appointees for Secretary Stimson’s split terms, while North Carolina receives credit for one appointee for Secretary Royall’s single term and incumbency during the transition from Secretary of War to Secretary of the Army.
6. Richard S. Patterson, "The [State] Department’s New Home—175 Years Ago," Foreign Service Journal (Jan 1960):33–31.
7. Ltr, Interior Department, National Park Service, Independence National Historical Park, 29 Apr 77. CMH files.
8. Lurton D. Ingersoll, A History of the War Department of the United States With Biographical Sketches of the Secretaries (Washington: Francis B. Mohun, 1880), ch. 4; General Services Administration Historical Study Number 3, Executive Office Building (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1970), pp. 2–8; Unpublished "Historical Report of the Executive Office Building," Department of the Interior, 1957, pp. 1–4, CMH files. Although these sources differ on minor details, they are in general accord on the substance of the development of the executive quarter on its present site.
9. GSA Study No. 3, p. 7.
10. To meet emergency housing needs during the Mexican War the government rented two commercial office buildings, one at 17th and F Streets, NW, built by William H. Winder, the other at 15th and F Streets, NW, built by W. W. Corcoran. In the Civil War some badly needed space was acquired by adding two floors to the executive office buildings and a wing to Old Navy. The Winder building was later purchased by the government and remains in use today (1981) as an executive office annex.
11. GSA Study No. 3, p. 57; Interior Report, pp. 9–10.
12. Annual Reports of the Secretary of War, 1935, p. 2; 1935, p. 3; and 1938, p. 35. For related details see also the annual reports of 1936, pp. 2, 6, 39; and 1937, pp. 3, 6, 36.
13. Sec’y War Rept, 1941, p. 11. The New War Department Building was turned over to the State Department when Army headquarters moved to the Pentagon; it remains a State Department building today (1981), joined to that agency’s new headquarters building constructed on adjacent land in the late 1950’s and opened in January 1961.
14. The Pentagon, (undated ca. 1943) pamphlet published in Washington, D.C., by the Pentagon Post Restaurant Council. CMH files.
15. In 1992 the portraits of the Secretaries of War were hanging in the inner or "A" Ring on the third floor of the Pentagon between the Fourth and Fifth corridors; those of the smaller number of Secretaries of the Army were in the "A" Ring of the third floor between the Sixth and Seventh corridors. Several of the portraits of key secretaries (Root and Stimson) were hanging in the Secretary of the Army’s office, and one—General Knox—was in the General Officers’ Mess; texturized photographic reproductions were substituted in the main collection on public display.
16. "Portrait Gallery of Secretary of War Belknap," a list compiled by Dallas Irvine, Chief Archivist, War Records Branch, National Archives, 1955, copy in CMH files. In addition to the predecessors, Huntington painted four and Ulke one of Belknap’s successors.
17. Memo, Office of the Assistant and Chief Clerk of the War Department, undated, sub: War Department Portrait Gallery. In Portraits of Ex-Secretaries of War. 007.2, Fine Arts, National Archives.
18. Ltr, John W. Weeks to John C. Scofield, Assistant and Chief Clerk, War Department, 23 Oct 25, sub: Arrangements to provide his portrait for the War Department Gallery. In ibid.
19. Memo, Office of the Assistant and Chief Clerk of the War Department, undated, sub: War Department Portrait Gallery. In ibid.
20. Resolution, The American Federation of the Arts to War Department, 26 May 31, sub: Recommendations concerning portraits of government figures. In ibid.
21. The matter of custodianship surfaces in these examples. Most of the Indian portraits, commissioned by Thomas L. McKenney, first superintendent of Indian Affairs when that bureau was in the War Department, were destroyed by a fire in the Smithsonian Institution in 1865. Fortunately, McKenney had published them privately, in his three-volume work, History of the Indian Tribes of North America With Biographical Sketches and Anecdotes of the Principal Chiefs (1836–1844), which perpetuated the gallery and became a classic. Captain Montgomery C. Meigs, an Army engineer officer charged with decorating the Capitol Building, commissioned James Walker to paint "The Battle of Chapultepec" and may have arranged for the acquisition of the twelve small Mexican War and two Civil War paintings by the Army Art Collection. When Edwin Forbes produced his etchings for the nation’s centennial celebration, General Sherman took the first set for the Army. They hung in Army offices for many years, apparently gradually disappearing as the headquarters made its frequent moves.
22. The Chief of Military History, who commands the U. S. Army Center of Military History, is custodian of the Army Art Collection. In addition to soldier art and works commissioned with commercial artists, the Center has custody on behalf of the nation of the Life and Abbott Laboratories Collections of World War II art. The Army Art Collection includes several watercolors by Adolf Hitler, original cartoons by Bill Mauldin, and important works—in addition to those listed above—by such noted American artists as Peter Hurd, Charles Johnson Post, Norman Rockwell, Howard Brodie, and Tom Lea. Another significant element is a series of portraits of the Army Chiefs of Staff, most of them recently executed through the generosity of former Secretary and Mrs. Robert T. Stevens. These portraits are featured in William Gardner Bell, Commanding Generals and Chiefs of Staff: Portraits and Biographical Sketches of the United States Army’s Senior Officer (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1992). Many pictures from the Army Art Collection are reproduced in Gordon R. Sullivan, Portrait of an Army (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1991).
23. Memo, President Jimmy Carter, the White House, for Cabinet Officers, 18 Apr 77, directing that the practice of commissioning oil portraits of agency heads be discontinued. Copy in CMH files. News accounts of the period indicate that a constituent of Senator Charles H. Percy of Illinois raised the subject of the cost to the taxpayer of cabinet member portraits. The Illinois legislator was reported to have raised the subject in turn with the director of the Office of Management and Budget; the presidential memorandum followed.
24. George Washington, The Writings of George Washington (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1962), vol. 5, p. 159.
page created 28 March 2001
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