Samuel Dexter

SAMUEL DEXTER was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on 14 May 1761; studied under the Reverend Aaron Putnam of Pomfret; graduated from Harvard College in 1781; studied law at Worcester under Levi Lincoln, the future attorney general of the United States; was admitted to the bar in 1784; practiced at several locations until settling at Charlestown, Massachusetts, in 1788; married Catherine Gordon that year; served in the state House of Representatives, 1788–1790; served in the U.S. House of Representatives, 1793–1795, and the U.S. Senate, 1799–1800; wrote the memorial eulogy to George Washington upon the first president’s death in December 1799; served as Secretary of War, 13 May 1800–31 January 1801; urged congressional action to permit appointment and compensation of field officers for general staff duty; served as Secretary of the Treasury, 1801–1802; briefly conducted the affairs of the Foreign Office and administered the oath of office to Chief Justice John Marshall; returned to private life and the practice of law at Roxbury, Massachusetts; appeared frequently before the higher state courts and the Supreme Court to argue cases; left the Federalist party to espouse Republican views on the War of 1812, opposing an embargo and nonintercourse policy and unsuccessfully contesting its constitutionality; declined a special mission to the Court of Spain tendered by President Madison; was an unsuccessful candidate for governor of Massachusetts in 1814 and 1815; was an ardent supporter of the temperance movement and presided over its first formal organization in his home state; died in Athens, New York, his son’s home, on 3 May 1816.

The Artist

Walter M. Brackett (1823–1919) was born in Unity, Maine, the younger brother of sculptor Edward A. Brackett. He spent most of his professional career in Boston, Massachusetts, exhibiting his work at the Boston Athenaeum, the Apollo Association, and the National Academy. He painted the portraits of Secretaries Pickering, Dearborn, and Eustis, in addition to Secretary Dexter’s, for the Army’s portrait gallery of civilian leaders. His Pickering portrait was donated to West Point.


Portrait, Samuel Dexter

J. Adams Administration
By Walter M. Brackett
Oil on canvas, 29˝" x 24˝", 1874

page created 1 March 2001

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