William C. Preston
1842 George Peter Alexander Healy Born: Boston, Massachusetts 1813 Died: Chicago, Illinois 1894 oil on canvas 36 x 29 in. (91.4 x 73.6 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Transfer from the National Institute XX112 Not currently on view
William Preston of South Carolina was one of several senators who nearly derailed the founding of the Smithsonian Institution. James Smithson, illegitimate son of England’s Duke of Northumberland, was a noted natural scientist. His considerable fortune went to the United States government in 1835 "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge." Like many of his fellow senators, William Preston argued against accepting Smithson’s gift, insisting that the United States should not take such a substantial amount of money from an English aristocrat. Preston was won over, however, and, with President Andrew Jackson's support, Congress voted to accept the bequest from Smithson.
Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006
Occupation - political - statesman
Portrait male - Preston, William C. - waist length
paint - oil
fabric - canvas