At the time President Jackson appointed Louis McLane (1786 - 1857) Secretary of the Treasury in 1831, the President was increasingly inclined to oppose the Second Bank of the United States. Though McLane's views on finance did not agree with those of the President, Jackson respected McLane and in making the appointment overlooked this potential conflict. During thirteen years in Congress (1816 - 1829), McLane had championed the cause of the Bank and had denied the power of Congress to interfere with its operations. As Secretary, he urged Congress to renew the Bank's charter when the measure was introduced in 1832. The bill was passed that year by Congress, but was vetoed by the President.
Sec. Louis McLane
Flavius J. Fisher
Oil on canvas
63 1/2 x 53 1/2 x 3 3/4"
Jackson ran for reelection in 1832 on the Bank issue and he interpreted his resounding triumph at the polls as public disapproval of the Bank. He pressured McLane to remove government deposits from the Bank, since the Secretary of the Treasury was the only person authorized to do so. Though McLane refused to withdraw the deposits, he wanted to avoid further conflict with Jackson and readily agreed to move to the position of Secretary of State when that office became available in 1833.
About the Artist
Born in Wytheville, Virginia in 1832, Flavius J. Fisher (1832 - 1905) was sent to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts to study drawing when he was twelve. Later, traveling to Germany, he was the first American to be admitted to the Berlin Institute of Art. Returning to America, Fisher settled in Lynchburg, Virginia and painted the portraits of many leading citizens. After 1882 he had a studio in the Corcoran Building in Washington, D.C. where he painted portraits of figures prominent in Washington politics. His portrait of Louis McLane, executed in 1893, was copied from a life portrait by Gilbert Stuart Newton that is still in the possession of the McLane family.