Amos Tappan Akerman was born in New Hampshire on February 23, 1821. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy, graduated from Dartmouth College in 1842, and was admitted to the bar. He moved to Elberton, Georgia, in 1850 to practice law. During the Civil War, Akerman served in the quartermaster's department of the Confederacy. Akerman was appointed district attorney for Georgia in 1869. President Grant appointed him Attorney General of the United States on June 23, 1870, and he held that office until 1872. He died in Cartersville, Georgia, on December 21, 1880.
Thorp was born in Ohio in 1844 and did not begin the study of art until he was twenty years old. During the 1870's he maintained a studio in the United States Capitol and painted many Government officials and other notables, including Grant, Lee, Sherman and Sheridan.
One of his portraits of Abraham Lincoln (made from earlier sketches) was purchased in 1920 for exhibition in the Senate Corridor of the United States Capitol.
Thorp's portrait of Attorney General Akerman was painted in 1875.