Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State

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Web Property of the U.S. Department of State


Object Details

Sidney Edward Dickinson (American, 1890-1980)
North American
oil on canvas
Overall: 35 in x 30 in; 88.9 cm x 76.2 cm
This portrait of James F. Byrnes, which was painted from life in 1951, was purchased by the Department of State from Mr. Dickinson on June 11, 1951.
Signed "Sidney E. Dickinson 1951"
Credit Line
The Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C.
The Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C.
Accession Number


James Byrnes (1882–1972) was born in Charleston, South Carolina. He worked in a law office where he received excellent instruction from several judges and was admitted to the South Carolina bar in 1903. Byrnes practiced law and then represented South Carolina in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. President Franklin D. Roosevelt nominated him to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1941, but after the start of World War II asked him to serve in the Executive Branch, as director of the Office of Economic Stabilization and then the Office of War Mobilization. In 1945, President Harry S Truman appointed Byrnes secretary of state. 

Byrnes accompanied President Truman to the Potsdam Conference, meeting with Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (until he was replaced by Clement Attlee) to decide on the administration of defeated Germany and discuss the postwar world order. In August 1945, Byrnes advised Truman in the use of atomic bombs against Japan. Relations with the Soviet Union began to deteriorate, and it was also during Byrnes’s time as secretary that the deputy chief of mission in Moscow, George Kennan, warned of Soviet expansionism and recommended a policy of “containment,” laying the foundations for U.S. policy during the Cold War between the superpowers.

Byrnes resigned in 1947 and continued to practice law. In 1951 he was elected governor of South Carolina.