James Madison Porter

JAMES MADISON PORTER was born near Norristown, Pennsylvania, on 6 January 1793; received his early education in the home, then attended Norristown Academy; began the study of law in an office at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 1809; joined his brother, Judge Robert Porter, to study law at Reading; moved to Philadelphia to clerk in the prothonotary’s office, 1812; helped raise and officer a volunteer militia company to garrison Fort Mifflin, 1813; advanced to the rank of colonel; was admitted to the bar and began the practice of law, 1813; moved to Easton, 1818; was appointed deputy attorney general for Northhampton County; married Eliza Michler, 1821; was instrumental in the founding of Lafayette College, 1826; was president of its board of trustees, 1826–1852, and professor of jurisprudence and political economy, 1837–1852; was appointed to a vacancy as president judge of the Twelfth Judicial District, 1839; resigned in 1840 and returned to the practice of law; was nominated by President Tyler to be Secretary of War, 1843, and served 8 March 1843–30 January 1844; directed the preparation of a history of the Indian tribes; was ultimately rejected by the Senate, 30 January 1844; was elected to the state legislature, 1849; served as chairman of the judiciary committee; served as president judge of the Twenty-second Judicial District, 1853–1855; was president of the Delaware, Lehigh, Schuylkill & Susquehanna Railroad, 1847–1853, continuing when it became the Lehigh Valley Railroad, 1853–1856; became president of the Belvidere Delaware Railroad; died at Easton, Pennsylvania, on 11 November 1862.

The Artist

Daniel Huntington (1816–1906), New York portrait, landscape, and historical painter, National Academician, and twice president of the National Academy of Design (1862–1870 and 1877–1890), drew upon the work of a provincial artist to execute his portrait of Secretary James M. Porter. He painted it three decades after the subject held office and a dozen years after his death. Huntington was a key artist in the creation of the Army portrait gallery; his contribution is of major significance as to both quantity and quality.


Portrait, James Madison Porter

Tyler Administration
By Daniel Huntington
Oil on canvas, 29" x 24", 1874

page created 1 March 2001

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