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From: History of the Indian Tribes of North America
Philadelphia: F.W. Greenough
Paper dimensions: 12 ½” x 17 ½”
Framed dimensions: 22” x 27”
When a large delegation of Indians came to see President Monroe in 1821, McKenney commissioned the fashionable portraitist Charles Bird King to paint the principal delegates, dressed in costumes of their choice. Many of the most prominent Indian leaders of the nineteenth century were among King’s sitters, including Sequoyah, Red Jacket, Major Ridge, Cornplanter, and Osceola. The portraits hung in the War Department until l858, when they were moved to the Smithsonian Institute. The portfolio nearly bankrupted McKenney as well as the two printing firms who invested in its publication. But their work proved to be a much more valuable contribution than they imagined. Catlin’s paintings of Indians were destroyed in a warehouse fire; and James Otto Lewis’ watercolors burned along with those by King in the Smithsonian fire of l865. The McKenney and Hall portraits remain the most complete and colorful record of the native leaders who made the long journey to Washington to speak for their people.