Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State

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Web Property of the U.S. Department of State


Object Details

Howard Chandler Christy (American, 1873-1952)
North American
oil on canvas
Overall: 63 in x 48 in; 160.02 cm x 121.92 cm
This portrait of Charles E. Hughes, which was painted from life in 1924, was presented to the Department of State by Colonel William Eric Fowler, of Washington, D.C., at a simple ceremony held at noon on March 18, 1925, in what was then known as "the large diplomatic reception room."
Signed "Howard Chandler Christy 1924"
Credit Line
Gift of Colonel William Eric Fowler
The Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C.
Accession Number


Charles Evans Hughes (1862–1948) was born in Glen Falls, New York. He graduated from Brown University and became a noted anti-corruption attorney before being elected governor of New York in 1906. President William Howard Taft appointed Hughes to the U.S. Supreme Court, from which he resigned in the summer of 1916 to run for president against incumbent Woodrow Wilson. Hughes lost but reentered public life when President Warren G. Harding appointed him secretary of state. Hughes stayed on in this position after Harding’s death in 1923, serving in the administration of Calvin Coolidge until 1925. 

Hughes came to the office of secretary after the U.S. Senate had refused to join the League of Nations, the international organization President Woodrow Wilson had created to prevent future wars. Hughes helped negotiate separate peace agreements with Germany and the other Central Powers, officially ending World War I. Although the mood of the country called for isolationism, a turning away from political involvement with other nations, Hughes favored international cooperation. He directed the Washington Naval Conference of 1921–22, setting ratios of naval strength among the world’s five largest naval powers and achieving the world’s first disarmament agreement.

He also increased U.S. prestige in Latin America by arbitrating disputes between countries in the Western Hemisphere, recognizing the new government in Mexico, and compensating Colombia for the 1903 revolt in Panama, which the United States had supported to help secure the right to build the Panama Canal. In the Department of State, Hughes worked to improve morale and increase the level of talent by supporting the 1924 Foreign Service Act, known as the Rogers Act, which helped build a professional, highly trained Foreign Service.

After Hughes resigned in 1925, he returned to his law practice. In 1930, President Herbert Hoover nominated him as chief justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, where he served until 1941.