Museum logo
Museum logo

Object Record

  • Email This Page
Accession Number 1900.001
Catalog Number 1900.001.060
Object Name Painting
Title Portrait of James A. Rhodes
Description Full-front portrait of Ohio's 61st and 63rd governor, James A. Rhodes who served 1963 to 1971 and 1975 to 1983. He wears a blue suit, a white shirt and a blue striped tie. He has gray hair.
Date 1971
Artist Wilson, David Philip, 1902-1981
Notes James A. Rhodes was born on September 13, 1909, in Coalton, Ohio. Rhodes' father was a coal miner who died in a mining accident in 1916. The Rhodes family then moved to Springfield, Ohio, where James took odd jobs to help support the family and also attended the Springfield Public Schools. He attended The Ohio State University but did not graduate because he had to leave school to financially aid his family.

In 1937, Rhodes embarked upon a career in politics and public service, winning election to the school board of Columbus, Ohio, as a Republican. His next public office was as the Columbus city auditor; in 1943, he won election as mayor of Columbus, an office that he held from 1944 to 1952. In 1952, Rhodes successfully ran for Ohio's auditor's seat, a position that he held for the next decade. In 1954, Rhodes lost election as Ohio's governor.

In 1962, Rhodes won election as Ohio's governor. He eliminated or dramatically scaled back several programs that the previous governor, Michael DiSalle, had implemented. At the same time, Rhodes authorized the building of airports, state office buildings, prisons, and other public structures. Rhodes also lowered taxes on small business owners, hoping to enhance Ohio's economy, while he increased funding to schools and universities. He won reelection in 1966.

In 1970, Rhodes ordered the Ohio National Guard to Kent State University to quell protests against the Vietnam War. The guardsmen killed four people. Before the shootings, Rhodes referred to the protestors as being "worse than the brownshirts and the communist element and also the nightriders and the vigilantes. They're the worst type of people that we harbor in America. I think that we're up against the strongest, well-trained, militant, revolutionary group that has ever assembled in America." Two days after the Kent State shootings, Rhodes lost the Republican primary election to the U.S. Senate.

Due to an Ohio constitutional amendment that limited governors to no more than two consecutive terms, Rhodes had to leave office at the end of his second term. He, however, sought reelection in 1974 and again in 1978, winning both elections. During these two terms, Rhodes continued to oppose tax increases. Like he had done during his first time in office, Rhodes also sent Ohio officials to other states to recruit businesses to come to Ohio. These officials became known as "Rhodes' Raiders," as they raided other states for businesses. Rhodes experienced far fewer successes during his second eight years in office, as the Democratic Party now had a much more sizable presence in the Ohio legislature. Rhodes could not run for reelection in 1982, but he sought a fifth term as Ohio governor in 1986, losing the election to incumbent Richard F. Celeste. Rhodes then retired from politics.

Besides his active life in politics, Rhodes also served as president of the Amateur Athletic Union. During the late 1940s, Rhodes was involved with this organization, which oversaw several amateur sports. He also was an accomplished author, publishing several books.

Rhodes died on March 4, 2001.
People Rhodes, James A. (James Allen), 1909-2001
Wilson, David Philip, 1902-1981
Signed Name "David Philip Wilson 1971"
Sig Loc Lower right
Image size 29-3/4" x 25"
Frame size 34-1/2" x 29-1/2"
Frame desc Second-half twentieth century cove-molded gilt frame
Material Oil Paint/Canvas/Wood
Provenance In 1867, the Ohio General Assembly passed a joint resolution relative to the governors of Ohio. The legislators resolved that "the secretary of state, on the first Monday of January next, whether the portraits of the governors of Ohio, state and territorial, can be procured, and if so, whether original portraits or copies, and the probable expense of procuring such portraits for the governor's office."

David Philip Wilson painted and signed this portrait of Governor Rhodes in 1971.

An article in the Ohio Historical Society's "Echoes" (Oct. 1971, vol. 10. p. 3) reports "An oil portrait of Governor James A. Rhodes (1963-1971), executed by Worthington, Ohio, artist David Philip Wilson, has been hung in the gallery of governors' portraits in the State House, Columbus, completing the collection of all sixty-one former chief executives.

The painting was commissioned by The Ohio Historical Society, as were those of the four predecessors recently added to the gallery."

This is one of the few Ohio governors' portraits under glass. On Thursday, August 21, 1977 a visitor to the Ohio Statehouse plastered a Kent State University protest bumper sticker on Rhodes' portrait. The sticker read, "Remember Kent State--Move the Gym." The incident occurred two days after a demonstrator hit Rhodes with a pie at the opening ceremony of the Ohio State Fair.

Previously the portrait had been slashed.

The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board took over the care of the Statehouse and its collections in 1988.



Search Terms Ohio Governor
Ohio Governor's Portraits
Subjects Governors
Painting
Portrait paintings
Collection Statehouse Artwork Collection/Governors' Portraits