Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State

United States of America flag

Web Property of the U.S. Department of State


Object Details

George Peter Alexander Healy (American, 1813-1894)
North American
oil on canvas
Overall: 45 1/4 in x 34 1/2 in; 114.935 cm x 87.63 cm
This portrait of Elihu B. Washburne is thought to have been done from life. It came into the possession of the Department of State sometime between 1883 and 1900, but no record has been found of the date or manner of its acquisition.
Signed "G. P. A. Healy. Chicago, August 21st 1883."
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


Elihu Benjamin Washburne (1816–1887) was born in Livermore, Maine. He attended Harvard Law School and settled in Galena, Ohio, where he practiced law. As a friend of President Ulysses S. Grant, he accepted the position of secretary of state as a temporary measure, until he could be appointed minister to France, two weeks later. His tenure as secretary of state was the shortest.

Washburne arrived in Paris shortly before the Franco-Prussian War broke out. He was there when France was defeated and the people of Paris rebelled against the French government to establish the Paris Commune, a short-lived government between March and May in 1871. More than 20,000 were killed in the turmoil. While other diplomats left Paris, Washburne remained behind to help American citizens, even visiting imprisoned Americans and identifying their bodies. Following the collapse of the Commune, Washburne continued to serve as U.S. minister to France until 1877.

After his service, Washburne returned to Galena and supported Grant’s bid for a third term as president at the Republican Convention that eventually nominated James A. Garfield.