Record: Portrait of Thomas B. Hudson

Samuel  Chilton
Portrait of Thomas B. Hudson by George Caleb Bingham, CRS # 8

Copyright 2009, George Caleb Bingham Catalogue Raisonne Supplement
Fred R. Kline, M.A., Editor & Director, Independent Art Historian
Kline Art Research Associates
7 Avenida Vista Grande, Suite B-7 , Santa Fe, NM 8750

frk   505-9881103

  GEORGE CALEB BINGHAM, American, 1811-1879 

Born 1814, Davidson County,Tennessee--Died1867, Florissant Valley, Missouri.

Prominent St. Louis attorney and Democratic politician; Captain of U. S. Cavalry during the Mexican War; widely respected for his expertise in maritime law and his acumen as a politician.

Hudson's first public position, 1842-43, was on the City Council of St. Louis during the administration of Mayor John F. Danby.  In 1840 he had been a Democratic candidate for the Missouri State Legislature; in 1842 he was elected to the Legislature and soon became a leader in the Democratic Party where his abilities as a speaker, debater, and wit were notable.

In 1840, during the presidential campaign of Harrison and Van Buren, Hudson was wrongly accused in the "MIssouri Republican" of making false and cowardly statements.  Custom then forced him to challenge the newspaper's publisher Colonel A. B. Chambers to a duel with rifles.  Before the duel, they resolved the error, fired three shots that deliberately missed each other, then, according to an eye-witness, the entire group of seconds, surgeons, and friends proceeded to the Colonel's home "and spent the day in song, merriment, and feasting".  Hudson and Chambers went on to be life-long friends.  This event and its outcome became widely known and much praised for its happy ending, likely enduring as a anecdotal reminder of the frivolity of the duelling tradition.

In his private legal practice, Hudson was a partner with James B. Bowlin and later James S. Thomas. In 1844, Hudson married Eliza Chambers of Florissant, daughter of Charles Chambers, Esq., and (it was noted) granddaughter on her maternal side of John Mullanphy of Florissant.  No children were mentioned in Hudson's obituary.

In 1846, at the outbreak of the U.S.-Mexican War (1846-48), Hudson raised and equipped a cavalry company and was elected Captain, a title he used thereafter.  Captain Hudson and his company accompanied General Doniphan in the march to Chihuahua and was remembered as "sharing in all the danger and glory of that brilliant campaign and proved himself to be a most gallant soldier".

Hudson's business activities in Missouri included serving as president of the North Missouri Railroad Company and a very active role in the organization of the Ohio and Missouri Railroad.

About 1856 and still a young man, Hudson's health began to fail and he was forced to retire to "Glen Owen", his "country seat" in the Florissant Valley about ten miles north of St. Louis.  He stayed active with many agricultural pursuits, including the organization of agricultural and mechanical fairs and the breeding of fine horses and cattle. He died in the early part of May 1867 at the age of fifty-three, after years, it was noted, "long suffering from debility and weakness of the lungs". 

A friend and colleague remembered him: "Captain Hudson was a tall, spare-made man, with dark hair and eyes, and a very commanding person.  No man had more personal friends, for he was social and genial in disposition, and affable and agreeable in his manners.  He always met you with a smile and a strong grip of the hand, denoting his gladness to see you.  He had a warm heart, which never failed to respond to the calls of charity.  He took a deep interest in all measures calculated to promote the interests of Missouri, his adopted state."

  Oil on canvas 
  30 x 25 inches





Circa  1850


  .By descent in the family of Thomas B. Hudson

  First exhibition:  The George Caleb Bingham Catalogue Raisonne Supplement of Paintings and Drawings. Fred R. Kline, Editor. George Caleb Bingham, Portrait of Thomas B. Hudson . Exhibited online at  Ongoing from April 17, 2009, Santa Fe, NM


First publication: The George Caleb Bingham Catalogue Raisonne Supplement of Paintings and Drawings.  Fred R. Kline, Editor.  Record: Portrait of Thomas B. Hudson. Illustration # 8. Published online at  Ongoing from April 17, 2009, Santa Fe, NM.

Note: E. Maurice Bloch was unaware of this painting and did not mention it or include it in his 1986 Catalogue Raisonne, The Paintings of George Caleb Bingham.