John Macpherson Berrien was born near Princeton, New Jersey, on August 23, 1781. He graduated from Princeton University in 1796, was admitted to the Georgia bar at eighteen and began to practice law. Berrien served as judge of the Eastern District of Georgia from 1810 until 1821. He was captain of the Georgia Hussars, a volunteer company in the War of 1812.
In 1822 and 1823, he was a State senator, and from 1824 to 1829 a United States Senator. President Jackson appointed him United States Attorney General in 1829. He served until 1831. He was reelected to the United States Senate in 1841, serving until 1852. He also served on the Smithsonian Board of Regents. He died in Savannah, Georgia, on January 1, 1856.
John Maier was born in Germany and immigrated to the United States in 1840. Settling in Atlanta, Georgia in 1850, Maier became noted as the first professional portraitist in Atlanta. He painted Alexander H. Stephens, the vice president of the Confederacy. This portrait hangs today in the Governor's mansion in Atlanta. The portrait of Berrien was painted in 1870.