Oil on canvas; 30 x 25 in. (76.2 x 63.5 cm.) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY.
Charles Lee or Gentleman of the Lee Family, c. 1794—1803
America had a common language, unlike the European nations, none of which was linguistically homogeneous. in 1789 the majority of Frenchmen did not speak French but were divided by a variety of provincial patois. Englishmen from Yorkshire were incomprehensible to those from Cornwall and vice versa. By contrast, Americans could understand one another from Maine to Georgia. It was very obvious why this should be so, said John Witherspoon, president of Princeton. Since Americans were
much more unsettled, and move frequently from place to place, they are not as liable to local peculiarities, either in accent or phraseology.