James Barbour

JAMES BARBOUR was born in Barboursville, Orange County, Virginia, on 10 June 1775; studied under James Waddel, a blind Presbyterian minister, at Gordonsville, but attended no institution of higher learning and remained largely self-taught; married Lucy Johnson in 1792; was admitted to the Virginia bar in 1794 after private study while serving as a deputy sheriff; was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates and served from 1798 to 1804 and from 1808 to 1812; supported the Virginia Resolutions of 1798 concerning the powers of the central government and the rights of the states, holding himself against "absolute consolidated government"; was speaker of the House of Delegates, 1809–1812; drafted the legislation that established the Virginia Literary Fund and laid the foundation for public education in the state; was elected governor of Virginia and served from 1812 to 1815; served in the United States Senate, 1815–1825; was chairman of the Senate Committees on Military Affairs and Foreign Relations; served as Secretary of War, 7 March 1825–23 May 1828; established the Army’s Infantry School of Practice; served as minister to Great Britain, 1828–1829; after a contested election, served temporarily in the House of Delegates, 1830–1831, but was forced to give way to his opponent through a decision of the Committee of Privileges and Elections; retired to private life at Barboursville; presided over the 1839 Whig convention that nominated Harrison and Tyler; served as president of the Virginia Agricultural Society; was actively involved in the efforts of the Orange County Humane Society to educate the children of the poor; died in Barboursville, Virginia, on 7 June 1842.

The Artist

Henry Ulke (1821–1910) was born at Frankenstein, Germany. Educated in Berlin, he studied under the court painter, Professor K. W. Wach, joined the revolutionary army, and was wounded, captured, and imprisoned at Spandau before emigrating to the United States in 1849. After working as a designer and illustrator in New York City, he moved to Washington to become a portraitist of statesmen. In addition to the James Barbour portrait, he painted Secretaries Marcy, Holt, Stanton, Rawlins, and McCrary, and interim secretary Reverdy Johnson for the Army portrait gallery.


Portrait, James Barbour

J. Q. Adams Administration
By Henry Ulke
Oil on canvas, 28" x 22", 1873

page created 1 March 2001

Return to Front Matter