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.

by Gilbert Stuart (1755—1828)

Oil on canvas; 73.7 x 61 cm (29 x 24 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

What ultimately convinced Americans that they must revolt in 1776 was not that they were naturally and inevitably republican, for if that were truly the case evolution, not revolution, would have been the eventual solution. Rather it was the pervasive fear that they were not predestined to be a virtuous and egalitarian people that in the last analysis drove them into revolution in 1776. It was this fear and not their confidence in the peculiarity of their character that made them so readily and so remarkably responsive to Thomas Paine’s warning that the time for independence was at hand and that delay would be disastrous. By 1776 it had become increasingly evident that if they were to remain the kind of people they wanted to be they must become free of Britain.

Gordon S. Wood
The Creation of the American Republic, 1776—1787 (1969)