Subject: Samuel Hopkins Adams
Date of Birth: January 26, 1871
Date of Death: 1958
Artist: Gordon Stevenson
Location: Burke Library, 1st Floor
Sitter: Samuel Hopkins Adams, Hamilton Class of 1891, was born on January 26, 1871 in Dunkirk, NY. Both Adams’ father, Myron Adams Jr., and his grandfather, Myron Adams Sr., attended Hamilton. Best known for his investigative journalism and muckraking, Adams started his writing career at Hamilton where he wrote for the Lit and The Hamiltonian. He is credited with introducing football to the Hill and was an active alumnus. Adams was a trustee from 1905 until 1916. He received an Honorary Degree from Hamilton in 1926. He died in Beaufort, South Carolina on November 16, 1958.
As a muckraker, Adams was part of a group of writers during the Progressive Era who exposed corruption in businesses and the government. He is best known for his investigative work in public health and patent medicines. Adams’s 1905 series titled, “The Great American Fraud” is widely credited with supporting the passage of the Pure Food and Drugs Act. The 11-part series exposed the claims made by medicine manufacturers, helping show that medicines often had adverse side effects. For his work on the Act, Adams received the acclaim of Congress, the American Medical Society, and the national public. During his career, he wrote over 50 works of fiction. His most famous is the novel Revelry (1926), which was based on the scandals of the Harding Administration. He also wrote two explicit novels under the name Warner Fabian, both of which were widely published.
Artist: The portrait is painted by Gordon Stevenson (1892-1984). Stevenson painted in a style akin to John Singer Sargent, who he met in London during a summer travel. Known for his cosmopolitan society portraits, Stevenson also expanded to landscapes and watercolors. His works can be seen in the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Toledo Museum of Art.
The Portrait at Hamilton: The portrait was commissioned in 1935 as a result of a raffle. Adams and his friends gathered $1,000 for the commission of the portrait and drew numbers to see the winner. Adams drew the lucky number and, thus, commissioned the portrait. It hangs in the first floor of the Burke Library. It’s dimensions are 46 x 36. 5 in and 53 ¾ x 43 ¾ in. in its frame.
Encyclopedia Britannica, s.v. “Samuel Hopkins Adams,” January 22, 2019, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Samuel-Hopkins-Adams.
“Catskill Stream- Gordon Stevenson.” Brooklyn Museum, accessed May 2, 2019, https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/objects/2796.
Fee, Elizabeth. “Samuel Hopkins Adams (1871-1958): Journalist and Muckraker,” American Journal of Public Health. August 2010, accessed May 2, 2019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2901284/.
Hamilton College Alumni Review (Volume II, 1937): 53-6.
Hamilton College Alumni Review (Volume LXXX, Number 1, 2015): 14.