George Washington McCrary

GEORGE WASHINGTON McCRARY was born near Evansville, Indiana, on 29 August 1835; moved with his family to Van Buren County, Iowa, 1837; was educated at regional schools and taught in a country school at eighteen; studied law in Keokuk, Iowa, in the office of John W. Rankin and Samuel F. Miller; was admitted to the bar in 1856; married Helen Gelatt, 1857; served in the state assembly, 1857–1860; served as a state senator, 1861–1865; was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and served from 1869 to 1877; was chairman of the committee on elections; published A Treatise on the American Law of Elections, 1875; helped create the Electoral Commission; served on the committee that investigated the Credit Mobilier scandal; was a member of the Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on Canals and Railroads; served as Secretary of War, 12 March 1877–10 December 1879; withdrew federal troops from the remaining reconstruction governments in South Carolina and Louisiana; used federal troops in the 1877 railway strike and in Mexican border disturbances; became judge of the Eighth Judicial District and served from 1880 to 1884; moved to Kansas City, Missouri, and became general counsel for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad for the remainder of his active career; died in St. Joseph, Missouri, on 23 June 1890.

The Artist

Henry Ulke (1821–1910) was ideally situated as a resident of the nation’s capital to paint the portraits of government officials. For his last portrait for the secretarial collection, Ulke was able to switch from the copy technique used in his work on his earlier Army portraits and to paint Secretary McCrary—a sitting official—from life. The portrait is signed and dated and brought Ulke the higher fee that had been inaugurated with Huntington’s portrait of Alphonso Taft.


Portrait,  George Washington McCrary

Hayes Administration
By Henry Ulke
Oil on canvas, 29½" x 24½", 1879

page created 2 March 2001

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