Walter Fisher was a noted Chicago attorney versed in transportation and municipal law and with a reputation as a reformer. He was president of the Conservation League of America and helped to establish its successor, the National Conservation Association. President Taft initially appointed Fisher to the Federal Railroad Securities Commission, and—after Interior Secretary Ballinger's resignation—tapped Fisher to fill the Cabinet vacancy. Fisher was seen as a moderate who favored resource development so long as there were regulations in place. This relatively neutral stance was aptly suited to restoring order and public opinion of the Department in the wake of the Ballinger-Pinchot Affair. Fisher also recommended building a railroad and leasing coal lands in Alaska.
Artist Louis Betts was William Merritt Chase's student at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Betts incorporated stylistic elements from Chase and European masters Frans Hals and Diego Velázquez, becoming an esteemed portraitist in his own right.