Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State

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Web Property of the U.S. Department of State


Object Details

Frank M. Pebbles (American, 1839-1928)
North American
oil on canvas
Overall: 62 in x 50 in; 157.48 cm x 127 cm
This portrait of Walter Q. Gresham is perhaps a replica of a portrait by Mr. Pebbles which Mrs. Gresham presented to the Emperor of Japan. It was purchased by the Department of State from Mr. Pebbles on October 7, 1895, after Mr. Gresham's death.
Signed "Frank M. Pebbles 1895"
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


Walter Quintin Gresham (1832–1895) was born in Harrison County, Indiana. He attended Indiana University and studied law. He served in the state legislature, then in the Union Army during the Civil War, rising to the rank of brevet major general. After the war he was a district judge in Indiana until appointed postmaster general and then secretary of the treasury by President Chester A. Arthur. Although Gresham ran in the Republican Party presidential primaries in 1884 and 1888, he grew dissatisfied with the party’s direction, and he accepted the invitation of President Grover Cleveland, a Democrat, to be secretary of state, an offer Cleveland made as a bipartisan gesture. 

As secretary, Gresham opened an investigation into the failed U.S. attempt to annex Hawaii and uncovered the direct involvement of U.S. diplomats in the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani, whose reign pro-American sugar planters wished to end. Although President Cleveland hoped to restore Native Hawaiian political power, the U.S. Senate declined. Gresham also worked to counter British influence in the Americas, especially during an 1895 royalist Brazilian coup attempt, but he also coordinated with Britain to protect commercial trade in an area that is now Nicaragua. The U.S. policy of nonintervention in European affairs was challenged by the treatment of U.S. citizens by the Ottoman Empire but Gresham rejected calls by missionaries for a U.S. naval base in Smyrna.

Gresham’s tenure as secretary of state was cut short by his death in 1895.