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James Armstrong Thome

James Armstrong Thome
Nathaniel Jocelyn, 1796 - 1881
James Armstrong Thome, 20 Jan 1813 - 4 Mar 1873
c. 1840
Oil on canvas
Stretcher: 86.4 x 69.5cm (34 x 27 3/8")
Frame: 105.7 x 87.6 x 6cm (41 5/8 x 34 1/2 x 2 3/8")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Restrictions & Rights
Object number
Exhibition Label
Born Augusta, Kentucky
Born into a slave-owning family, James A. Thome became convinced of the moral iniquity of slavery while a divinity student at Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnati. Thereafter, he helped craft the radical abolitionist message that slaves had to be granted immediate and unconditional freedom. Thome worked as a traveling agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society, and he also investigated conditions in slave societies to provide documentary evidence against slaveholders' arguments that slavery was a positive good. In 1839 Thome fled Ohio, where he was teaching at Oberlin College, when he was threatened with arrest for assisting a runaway slave. He went to Connecticut, where he was portrayed by the artist and abolitionist Nathaniel Jocelyn. Thome is shown holding a copy of Theodore Weld's American Slavery As It Is (1839), to which he had contributed much of the primary research.
Estate of Nellie Layman Clapp; (Lovatt’s Auction, Philadelphia), 1968 [as unidentified sitter, unidentified artist]; John C. Milley, Philadelphia; (Skinner, Inc., Boston, 2 November 1991); purchased NPG
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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National Portrait Gallery Collection
American Origins
On View
NPG, East Gallery 122