King George III

by Benjamin West (1738—1820)

Oil on canvas; 255.3 × 182.9 cm (100.5 × 72 in). Royal Collection Trust, London, England.

by Joshua Reynolds (1723—92)

Oil on canvas; 2774 x 1855 mm. Royal Academy of Arts, London, England.

by Thomas Gainsborough (1727—88)

Oil on canvas; 238.8 × 158.7 cm (94 × 62.5 in). Royal Collection Trust, Buckingham Palace, London, England.

by Mather Brown (1761—1831)

Oil on canvas.

by Allan Ramsay (1713—84)

Oil on canvas. Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA.

by Allan Ramsay (1713—84)

Oil on canvas; 53.5 x 79 cm. Private Collection.

by Johann Zoffany (1733—1810)

Oil on canvas; 163.2 x 137.3 cm. Royal Collection Trust, London, England.

by William Beechey (1753—1839)

Oil on canvas; 92 in. x 57 in. (2337 mm x 1448 mm). National Portrait Gallery, London, England.

[Of those opposed to slavery,] George Washington belonged, with Mason and Jefferson, in the hardest category — disapproving owners. Theirs was the most difficult position to maintain, psychologically and rhetorically. It would not be maintained over the next sixty years, as southern antislavery rhetoric withered. Practically and politically, disapproving owners were in the hardest position from which to achieve their goals. How do you weaken an institution in which you and all your neighbors are enmeshed? Washington did enough, finally, to free his own slaves, which was more than many owners in his position did. Jefferson never freed all his, nor did any of the other slave-owning presidents.

Richard Brookhiser
Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington (1996)