Gateway to the Classics: American History Stories, Volume III by Mara L. Pratt
American History Stories, Volume III by  Mara L. Pratt

General Jackson's Portrait

If President Jackson had been allowed to have his own way we should have no picture of him to grace our historic galleries; for if there was any one thing that this obstinate man disliked, it was "picture painting."

"Never! never!" thundered he, "shall my face be set up here and there and everywhere."

"My face shall be my own," shouted he, as a fellow-politician begged him to allow his likeness to be painted. "My country has a right to my likeness, do you say?" cried he rising in fury. "I say they have not. My years and my service are theirs; but my face! Never!"

Few dared brave the thunder of this man, much as his likeness was desirable.

At one time the King of France sent to Andrew Jackson an artist, with the request that the French court be favored with a portrait of America's President. He found the ex-President sitting erect in his chair, surrounded by pillows, and his courteous presentation of his request and his credentials were received, with flashing eyes.

"You can't paint my portrait, sir!" roared the general. "The King of France or any other man cannot have my picture!"

"But," said Mr. Healy, "I have come many thousands of miles, at great labor and expense, upon a commission from a reigning monarch who greatly admires you. Pray reconsider your refusal."

"No, sir," said Jackson, "you can't paint my portrait! You are welcome to stay at the Hermitage the rest of your days if you like, but you can't have my portrait."

The shrewd artist seized his opportunity; he remained at the Hermitage, and at last, with the assistance of the general's family, induced the obstinate old gentleman to give him short sittings.

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