Terre Haute Living January/February 2019 - Page 20

UP FRONT at the museum A PORTRAIT OF EUGENE V. DEBS O ne of Terre Haute’s most famous citizens of history is Eugene V. Debs. This native son is thought of as one of the country’s best-known socialists, having helped start the Industrial Workers of the World Union and being a five-time presiden- tial candidate for the Socialist Party of America. In the 1920s, the Labor Government in England commissioned artist Joseph Oppenheimer to paint a portrait of Debs. The painting was to be included in a book about the Labor movement and its worldwide leaders. When the Labor Government lost power, the book was never completed and an individual connected with Lazard Freres, the international bankers firm that was financing the Pullman Company of the United States, purchased the portrait. Debs played a critical role in the la- bor dealing with that company. Dr. Benjamin Strong, who inherited the portrait from his father, donated the piece to the Vigo County Historical Society Museum in 1987, where it is currently on display. The Vigo County Historical Society Museum is closed for a pe- riod of time as the staff prepares to move into its new building on Wabash Avenue. It will reopen in early 2019. WORDS: LEAH R. SINGER PHOTOGRAPHY: AUSTEN LEAKE 20 Terre Haute Living • January/February 2019 tribstar.com/terrehauteliving