For the Senate’s Vice Presidential Bust Collection, Andrew Johnson’s daughter, Martha Johnson Patterson of Greeneville, Tennessee, reviewed photographs of various portrait models of her father. She selected one by sculptor William C. McCauslen of Washington, D.C.
In writing to Senator George Peabody Wetmore of Rhode Island, chairman of the Joint Committee on the Library, Patterson noted: “I am no critic, but think I am the best judge and hope my preferences will be considered.” In actuality, Johnson’s modest daughter, who was the wife of Senator David Trotter Patterson of Tennessee, had both an artistic eye and strong political credentials for such a task. During her father’s years in office, she served as White House hostess in place of her invalid mother. In 1866-67 the president’s daughter personally directed extensive remodeling and redecorating at the White House. While exploring the attic, she discovered a series of forgotten portraits of Presidents John Quincy Adams, Van Buren, Tyler, Polk, Fillmore and Pierce by famed portraitist George P.A. Healy. The series, commissioned by Congress in 1857, had been interrupted by the Civil War, with the completed but unframed paintings relegated to the attic. When Patterson showed her father her discovery, the delighted president secured an appropriation for framing the portraits. Patterson then had the works hung in the transverse hall on the state floor outside the state parlors in 1867.
Now, more than three decades later, the president’s daughter again exerted her influence. Her choice of the Ohio-born McCauslen was heeded. On February 23, 1900, Wetmore authorized McCauslen, who had already depicted Vice Presidents William R. King and John Tyler, to execute the bust of Andrew Johnson for the Senate’s memorial series.