John C. Calhoun
1782 - 1850
Mathew Brady photographed John C. Calhoun around the winter of 1849 and used the image as the basis for the production of many additional portraits, including this lithograph from The Gallery of Illustrious Americans. Charles E. Lester, The Gallery's biographer, wrote that because Calhoun was "born during the Revolutionary struggle he was taught to venerate liberty, and that lesson became the guide of his life. In youth, he laid himself on the altar of the Republic, and his life has been a self-immolation." Calhoun devoted most of his political career to protecting the interests of the South while maintaining the Union. He came to Washington in 1811 as a congressman from South Carolina, quickly attaining recognition for his powerful support for war against Britain. Under James Monroe he became secretary of war, and was twice elected Vice President --under John Quincy Adams in 1824 and Andrew Jackson in 1828. But in 1832 his support for states' rights caused a rift with Jackson, and Calhoun resigned the Vice Presidency for the Senate. Calhoun remained a powerful and charismatic figure in Washington until his death, the perpetual Democratic opponent of Whig politicians Daniel Webster and Henry Clay.

Gallery of Illustrious Americans
Francis D'Avignon (born circa 1814), after Mathew Brady
Lithograph, 1850
29.1 x 24.5 cm (11 7/16 x 9 5/8 inches)
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.