President William Henry Harrison appointed Thomas Ewing (1789 - 1871) Secretary of the Treasury in 1841 and he was retained by President John Tyler after Harrison's death. As a Senator from Ohio (1831 - 1837), Ewing had advocated rechartering the Second Bank of the United States and had denounced President Jackson's removal of government deposits. In 1841, after Congress repealed former Secretary Levi Woodbury's law creating an Independent
Sec. Thomas Ewing
William Garl Browne
Oil on canvas
63 1/4 x 53 1/2 x 4 3/4"
Treasury System, Ewing was called upon to devise a new depository for the Government's funds. He introduced several options, including bills for a new national bank. None of his suggestions were adopted and Tyler thwarted his plan for organizing a central bank to replace the Independent Treasury System, maintaining that it was unconstitutional for the Treasury Department to authorize bank branches in the States without their consent. After only six months, along with most of Tyler's Cabinet, Ewing resigned in protest against Tyler's opposition to his proposals. Eight years later, in 1849, President Zachary Taylor appointed Ewing the first Secretary of the newly created Department of the Interior.
About the Artist
William Garl Browne (1823 - 1894) was born in Liverpool, England in 1823 to a landscape painter father of the same name, who moved to the United States with his family around 1840. The younger Browne settled in Richmond in 1846 to establish himself as a portrait painter. In 1847, during the Mexican-American War, he traveled to Mexico to paint portraits of Zachary Taylor and other war heroes. Before and after the Civil War, Browne traveled extensively in the southern United States painting portraits of eminent members of society. His posthumous portrait of Thomas Ewing, painted in 1879, was probably based on a photograph.