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John C. Calhoun

John C. Calhoun
Artist
George Peter Alexander Healy, 15 Jul 1813 - 24 Jun 1894
Sitter
John Caldwell Calhoun, 18 Mar 1782 - 31 Mar 1850
Date
c. 1845
Type
Painting
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
Stretcher: 91.9 x 74.1 x 3.8cm (36 3/16 x 29 3/16 x 1 1/2")
Frame: 116.2 x 97.8 x 7cm (45 3/4 x 38 1/2 x 2 3/4")
Topic
John Caldwell Calhoun: Male
John Caldwell Calhoun: Law and Law Enforcement\Lawyer
John Caldwell Calhoun: Politics and Government\Vice-President of US
John Caldwell Calhoun: Politics and Government\Cabinet Member\Secretary of War
John Caldwell Calhoun: Education and Scholarship\Scholar\Philosopher
John Caldwell Calhoun: Politics and Government\Cabinet Member\Secretary of State
John Caldwell Calhoun: Politics and Government\US Congressman\South Carolina
John Caldwell Calhoun: Politics and Government\US Senator\South Carolina
Portrait
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Restrictions & Rights
CC0
Object number
NPG.90.52
Exhibition Label
Born Abbeville District, South Carolina
John C. Calhoun traversed the spectrum of antebellum American politics during his influential career. From 1825 to 1829, he served as John Quincy Adams’s vice president but helped defeat him in the next presidential election as Andrew Jackson’s running mate. A fervent nationalist during the War of 1812 (1812–15), Calhoun was championing states’ rights by the 1830s.
Calhoun’s white supremacist ideology justified slavery as essential to the Southern economy. While representing South Carolina in the U.S. Senate (1833–43; 1845–50), he advanced the doctrine of nullification as a bulwark against future antislavery legislation, asserting that states had the right to nullify any federal acts they considered unconstitutional. During negotiations over the Compromise of 1850, Calhoun warned that admitting Oregon and California as free states would upset the balance of power in Congress, prompting slave-holding states to secede. Although he dreaded that prospect, his ideas helped bring it about.
Nacido en el Distrito de Abbeville, Carolina del Sur
John C. Calhoun recorrió la gama de la política estadounidense antes de la Guerra Civil. Entre 1825 y 1829 fue vicepresidente bajo John Quincy Adams, pero ayudó a derrotarlo en las elecciones siguientes como compañero de papeleta de Andrew Jackson. Nacionalista ferviente en la Guerra de 1812 (1812– 15), para 1830 defendía los derechos estatales.
La ideología supremacista blanca de Calhoun justificaba la esclavitud como algo esencial para la economía sureña. Siendo senador por Carolina del Sur (1833–43; 1845–50), promovió la doctrina de la anulación como baluarte contra futura legislación antiesclavista, afirmando que los estados tenían el derecho de anular cualquier ley federal que consideraran inconstitucional. En las negociaciones del Compromiso de 1850, Calhoun advirtió que admitir a Oregón y California como “estados libres” alteraría el balance de poder en el Congreso y causaría la secesión de los estados esclavistas. Aunque temía tal posibilidad, sus ideas contribuyeron a hacerla realidad.
Provenance
(Maree Schwerin, Colonial Antique Shop, Charleston); purchased 1990 NPG
This appears to be the portrait of Calhoun owned in 1951 by Henry Gourdin Young, Charleston, which descended in the family of Henry Gourdin, who had been given the portrait by Calhoun’s widow.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
Exhibition
2022 Rehang of Out of Many: Portraits from 1600 to 1900
On View
NPG, East Gallery 110a