Robert Porter Patterson

ROBERT PORTER PATTERSON was born in Glens Falls, New York, on 12 February 1891; graduated from Union College, Schenectady, New York, 1912; received a law degree from Harvard University, 1915; entered practice in New York City in Elihu Root’s firm; served as a private with New York’s Seventh Regiment on the Mexican Border, 1916; entered upon active duty as a second lieutenant at the Reserve Officers’ Training Camp, Plattsburg, New York, 1917; was promoted to captain and then major with the 306th Infantry of the American Expeditionary Forces in France, receiving the Distinguished Service Cross for heroism in action, 1918; returned to his law career and established a successful new firm in New York; married Margaret Winchester, 1920; was appointed judge for the southern district court of New York, 1930; was promoted to the second circuit court of appeals, 1939; was appointed Assistant Secretary of War, July 1940, and advanced to Under Secretary, December 1940; had statutory responsibility for production and procurement and was the Army representative on the War Production Board, the War Manpower Commission, and the Committee for Congested Production; was appointed Secretary of War and served from 27 September 1945 to 18 July 1947; pressed for unification of the armed services and a single Chief of Staff; returned to the practice of law in the firm of Patterson, Belknap, and Webb; was president of the Bar Association of the City of New York, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, and president of Freedom House; died in a plane crash at Elizabeth, New Jersey, on 22 January 1952.

The Artist

Joseph Cummings Chase (1878–1965) was born at Kents Hill, Maine, and studied art at the Pratt Institute in New York and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts before going on to study under Jean Paul Laurens at the Académie Julien in Paris. He painted military figures from both World Wars—soldiers cited for bravery as well as senior commanders—and various prominent personalities, such as Albert Einstein, Will Rogers, Theodore Roosevelt, and Al Smith. Many of his portraits appeared as illustrations in his two books, My Friends Look Better Than Ever (1950) and Face Value (1962).


Portrait, Robert Porter Patterson

Truman Administration
By Joseph Cummings Chase
Oil on canvas, 35½" x 27½", ca. 1947

page created 9 March 2001

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