Benjamin Franklin

by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863—1930)

Oil on canvas; 30 x 24 in. One of the 78 scenes from American history by Ferris titled The Pageant of a Nation. Virginia Historical S

by Robert Feke (c. 1707—52)

Oil on canvas; 127 x 102 cm (50 x 40 3/16 in.) Harvard University Portrait Collection, Cambridge MA.

by Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741—1828)

 

by John Trumbull (1756—1843)

Oil on wood; 14 x 11.1 cm (5 1/2 x 4 3/8 in.) Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT.

by Benjamin West (1738—1820)

Oil on canvas; Height: 28 ½” (72.3 cm); Width: 36 ¼” (92.7 cm). Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library; Winterthur, DE.

by Charles Willson Peale (1741—1827)

Oil on canvas; oval: 23 1/8 x 19 1/16 in. (58.7 x 48.4 cm.) Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA.

by Charles Willson Peale (1741—1827)

Oil on canvas. Historical Society of Pennsylvania Collection, Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent, Philadelphia, PA.

by William Rush (1756—1833)

North American white pine; 54.6 x 40 x 38.1 cm (21 1/2 x 15 3/4 x 15 in.) Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT.

by Benjamin West (1738—1820)

Oil on slate; 13 3/8 x 10 1/16 inches (34 x 25.6 cm). Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA.

by Norman Rockwell (1894—1978)

Oil on canvas; 37 x 28 inches. Private collection.

Racial prejudice worked to perpetuate American slavery, even if it was not essential to sustain the institution. Slavery, serfdom, and peonage had existed elsewhere without racial connotations. Indeed, bondage had been so historically ubiquitous one might well ask why, by the 1760’s, it had come to trouble so many white Americans so much. The answer lies in part — and this part help explain why people like Mason did not act more aggressively on their concerns — in the reservations many whites felt about living alongside members of a supposedly inferior race, whether slave or free. The problem was inherent in American slavery, and emancipation, by undermining white control, would only make it worse.

Jeff Broadwater
George Mason: Forgotten Founder (2006)