Alexander Hamilton

by Charles Willson Peale (1741—1827)

Oil on canvas; H 24 in. x W 20 in.

by Charles Willson Peale (1741—1827)

Oil on canvas. New-York Historical Society, New York, NY.

by John Trumbull (1756—1843)

Oil on canvas. Jointly shared by The Metropolitan Museum, New York, NY and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR.

by John Trumbull (1756—1843)

Oil on canvas; 76.2 x 60.5 cm (30 x 23 13/16 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

by John Trumbull (1756—1843)

Oil on canvas; 30 3/4 x 24 3/4 in. (78.1 x 62.9 cm.) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY.

by John Trumbull (1756—1843)

Oil on canvas; 30 1/2 x 25 1/2 in. (77.5 x 64.8 cm). New-York Historical Society, New York, NY.

by John Trumbull (1756—1843)

Oil on canvas. City Hall Portrait Collection, New York, NY.

by John Trumbull (1756—1843)

Oil on canvas. 77.79 x 62.55 cm • 30 5/8 x 24 5/8 in. National Portrait Gallery (Smithsonian), Washington, DC.

by Giuseppe Ceracchi (1751—1801)

White marble; 9 1/4 x 19 1/2 x 13 in., 87 lb. (23.5 x 49.5 x 33 cm, 39.5 kg). New-York Historical Society, New York, NY.

by James Sharples (c. 1751—1811)

Pastel on paper. Independence National Historical Park, Portrait Collection (Second Bank of the United States), Philadelphia, PA.

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)