When Secretary of the Treasury Howell Cobb resigned in 1860, President Buchanan appointed Philip F. Thomas (1810-1890), former Governor of Maryland, in his place. Thomas reluctantly accepted the position and immediately upon entering office had to market a bond to pay the interest on the public debt.
Sec. Philip F. Thomas
Robert C. Hinckley
Oil on canvas
53 1/2 x 51 x 4 1/2"
There was little faith in the stability of the country due to the threat of secession by the Southern states, and war appeared inevitable. Northern bankers refused to invest in Thomas's loan, wary that the money would go to the South. Thomas resigned after only a month in response to his failure to obtain the loan, stating: "This loan was the direct cause of my leaving the Cabinet before the expiration of Mr. Buchanan's term. It was reported to me that some New York capitalists had gone to Mr. Buchanan and said that they would not subscribe for the loan as long as a Southern man remained at the head of the Treasury.... my service in the Cabinet was anything but an agreeable part of my public life."
About the Artist
Robert C. Hinckley was born in Northampton, Massachusetts in 1853. As a young man he went to Paris to study art with Carolus Duran, staying in France seventeen years and continuing his art studies at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. When he returned to the United States he moved to Washington, D.C. and established himself as a portrait painter, executing many commissions for the Federal Government and teaching classes at the Corcoran School of Art. Hinckley's portrait of Philip F. Thomas is a copy and bears strong resemblance to an earlier portrait by N. Cox in the Annapolis State House.