"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Thomas L. McKenney

This 1856 portrait of Thomas L. McKenney by Charles Loring Elliott hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.
"Thomas L. McKenney was one of the most impor­tant figures in setting and implementing early gov­ernmental policy toward American Indians. He was superintendent of Indian trade from 1816 to 1822 and later superintendent of Indian affairs (1824-­30), a position created in the War Department. McKenney sought to integrate, or at least recon­cile, Indians with American culture through educa­tion. He helped secure the passage of the Indian Civilization Act of 1819 and, more ominously, the Indian Removal Act (1830), which confiscated Indian lands and forced tribes to relocate west of the Mississippi. McKenney claimed that the brutality of the 'Trail of Tears' was due to the callousness of President Andrew Jackson, not his fault or that of the bureau. Jackson fired McKenney for insubordination. While in office, McKenney initiated a major ethno­logical project, collecting books, manuscripts, arti­facts, and paintings to document the history of the North American Indians." -- National Portrait Gallery

This engraved portrait and autograph of McKenney appears in his 1846 Memoirs.

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