George Henry Williams was born in New Lebanon, New York, on March 26, 1823. He received an academic education, studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1844. He moved to Iowa and began practicing law at Ft. Madison. In 1847, he was elected judge of the first judicial district of the State. He was appointed chief justice of the Territory of Oregon in 1853, reappointed in 1857 and resigned in 1857. He was a member of the Oregon Constitutional Convention which preceded the formation of the State government. From 1865 to 1871 Williams served as United States Senator from Oregon. In 1871 he was a member of the commission to settle the Alabama claims from the Treaty of Washington. On December 14, 1871, President Grant appointed him Attorney General of the United States. Williams was nominated to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States in 1873, but was never confirmed. He resigned the Attorney General post in 1875. He died on April 4, 1910 in Portland, Oregon.
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.