Alexander Mitchell Palmer was born in Moosehead, Pennsylvania, on May 4, 1872. In 1891 he received his A.B. degree from Swarthmore College and studied law at Swarthmore, Lafayette, and George Washington University. He was admitted to the bar in 1893, practiced with Honorable John B. Strom until 1901, and then alone. Palmer was a Member of Congress from 1909 to 1915. He was appointed judge of the United States Court of Claims in April 1915 and resigned that post on September 1, 1915. From October 22, 1917, to March 1919, he was alien property custodian under the "Trading with the Enemy Act." Palmer was a delegate at large to the Democratic National Conventions in 1912 and 1916, and a member of the executive committee of the Democratic National Committee from 1912 to 1920. He was appointed Attorney General of the United States by President Wilson on March 5, 1919, and remained until March 5, 1921. At the Democratic National Convention at San Francisco in 1920, Palmer received 267 nominating votes for President. He died on May 11, 1936 in Washington, D.C.
The artist was born in Russia. He studied at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts, and specialized in portraiture. His portrait of Attorney General Palmer was painted in 1921.