William Learned Marcy

WILLIAM LEARNED MARCY was born in Sturbridge (now Southbridge), Massachusetts, on 12 December 1786; was educated at Leicester and Woodstock Academies; graduated from Brown University, 1808; taught school briefly at Newport, Rhode Island; moved to Troy, New York, to study law and was admitted to the bar, 1811; married Dolly Newell in 1812 (deceased in 1821); wrote for the Northern Budget and the Albany Argus; joined the 155th New York Regiment and served in several actions of the War of 1812; was appointed adjutant general of New York, 1821; was appointed recorder of Troy, 1816–1818 and 1821–1823; was an associate in the firm of Marcy & Lane, 1818–1823; was appointed state comptroller of New York and moved to Albany, 1823; married Cornelia Knower, circa 1825; was appointed associate justice of the state Supreme Court, 1829; was elected to the U.S. Senate, 1831–1832; served three terms as governor of New York, 1833–1838; executed the state’s first survey of fifty-six counties; was a member of the Mexican Claims Commission, 1840–1842; served as Secretary of War, 6 March 1845–4 March 1849; recommended augmentation of existing Army units to meet a growing threat from Mexico and the Indians; proposed establishment of an Indian agency in the Oregon territory to deal with northwestern tribes; was a key figure in the settlement of the Oregon boundary dispute, 1846; served as Secretary of State, 7 March 1853–6 March 1857, and directed the negotiation of twenty-four pacts, including the Gadsden Treaty which added 29,640 square miles to the U.S.; returned to private life in Albany; died at Ballston Spa, New York, on 4 July 1857.

The Artist

Henry Ulke (1821–1910), a German-born and German-trained artist and a court painter and revolutionary in Berlin before he emigrated to the United States in 1849, was next only to Huntington and Weir in the number of portraits he contributed to the first century of the War Department’s secretarial gallery project. His portraits of six of Secretary Belknap’s predecessors—Barbour, Marcy, Holt, Stanton, Rawlins, Johnson—and one successor—McCrary—were among the more than one hundred he produced while a limner of statesmen in the nation’s capital.


Portrait, William Learned Marcy

Polk Administration
By Henry Ulke
Oil on canvas, 27¾" x 22¼", 1873

page created 2 March 2001

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