John Adams

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 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 John Singleton Copley (1738—1815)

Black chalk, white-chalk heightening, and graphite on blue laid paper. 18 7/8 x 14 1/4 in.

by John Singleton Copley (1738—1815)

Oil on canvas; 238.1 x 147 cm (93 3/4 x 57 7/8 in). Harvard University Portrait Collection, Cambridge, MA.

by Mather Brown (1761—1831)

Oil on canvas; 34 ½ x 27 ¼ in. (90.2 x 71.3 cm). Boston Athenæum, Boston, MA.

by Charles Willson Peale (1741—1827)

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

by John Trumbull (1756—1843)

Oil on wood; 9.8 x 8.3 cm (3 7/8 x 3 1/4 in). Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT.

by James Sharples (c. 1751—1811)

Pastel on gray (now oxidized) laid paper. 9 1/2 x 7 7/16 in. • 24.1 x 18.9 cm. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY.

attrib. family member of James Sharples (c. 1751—1811)

Pastel on gray paper; 9 x 7 in. (22.9 x 17.8 cm). The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX.

In 1789 the South and especially Virginia had been the impelling force in creating the nation. By 1815 the South and slaveholders still seemed to be in control of the national government. President Madison was a slaveholder. So too were Speaker of the House, Henry Clay, James Monroe, the secretary of state, and George W. Campbell, the secretary of the treasury. All Republican leaders of the House were slaveholders. In 1815 the United States had four missions in Europe: two of them were held by slaveholders. The chief justice of the United States was a slaveholder, as were a majority of the other members of the Court. Since 1789 three of the four presidents, two of the five vice-presidents, fourteen of the twenty-six presidents pro tempore the Senate, and five of the ten Speakers of the House had been slaveholders.

Gordon S. Wood
Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 (2009)