Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State

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Web Property of the U.S. Department of State


Object Details

Charles Ayer Whipple (American, 1859-1928)
North American
oil on canvas
Overall: 51 in x 39 1/2 in; 129.54 cm x 100.33 cm
This portrait of John Sherman, which is thought to have been done from life, was purchased by the Department of State from Mr. Whipple on July 7, 1898.
Signed "C. Ayer Whipple. 1896."
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


John Sherman (1823–1900) was born in Lancaster, Ohio, a brother of the well-known Civil War general, William Tecumseh Sherman. He studied law and entered politics, being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and to the U.S. Senate, where he served from 1860 to 1877. President Rutherford B. Hayes appointed Sherman secretary of treasury, and during his tenure he helped author the Sherman Antitrust Act before returning to the Senate to serve another 16 years. While in the Senate, Sherman ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination three times. In 1897, President William McKinley selected Sherman to serve as his secretary of state.

Sherman’s tenure as secretary was marked by the tension with Assistant Secretary of State William R. Day, who, with the support of President McKinley, often replaced Sherman at cabinet meetings. Sherman was influential in matters of international commerce, but Assistant Secretary Day was the one who negotiated the annexation of Hawaiian Islands and managed U.S. policy toward Spain over the question of Cuban independence. War broke out with Spain in 1898, and Sherman resigned in protest four days later.

Though his health was failing, Sherman continued to comment on political matters and opposed the acquisition of Puerto Rico and the Philippines that came with the treaty ending the war.