Walter Forward (1786 - 1852), a judge from Pittsburgh, was an active supporter of President William Henry Harrison and Vice President Tyler in the Presidential campaign of 1840 and was rewarded by Harrison with the appointment as Comptroller of Currency in the Treasury Department. Upon Secretary Thomas Ewing's resignation in 1841, Forward was appointed Secretary of the Treasury in President Tyler's reorganized Cabinet.
Sec. Walter Forward
Oil on canvas
65 1/4 x 55 1/2 x 3 3/4"
That year, former Secretary Levi Woodbury's Independent Treasury System of 1840 was repealed and the Government's funds were deposited once more with commercial banks. Soon after Forward took office, he was asked by Millard Fillmore, then chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, to devise a plan to increase the tariff, in response to the serious decrease in revenue caused by the Panic of 1837. He was also asked to develop plans for a Board of Exchequer to receive and disburse Customs revenue, since the Independent Treasury System was no longer in effect. In August 1842 a strongly protective tariff was passed and Secretary Forward resigned that year to practice law.
About the Artist
Originally from Geneva, Ohio, the self-taught portrait artist Freeman Thorp (1844 - 1922) came to Washington, D.C. in 1861 to paint official portraits of Washington notables. Through his studio, at one time in the attic of the Senate wing of the Capitol, passed Presidents Lincoln, Grant, Garfield, McKinley, and Cleveland in addition to Chief Justice Salmon Chase, Horace Greely, and Charles Sumner. At the age of thirty-three, Thorp was elected a member of the Ohio legislature and placed in charge of the senatorial campaign of his friend James A. Garfield. Thorp's portrait of Walter Forward, painted in 1881, is copied from an unknown source.