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.
Thomas Sully (1783—1872)
Oil on canvas; 60.96 cm (24 in) x 50.8 cm (20 in). Private collection.
Oil on canvas. Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks, Physick House, Philadelphia, PA.
Oil on canvas; 26 3/4 in. x 21 7/8 in. Yale University Art Gallery, Mabel Brady Garvan Collection, Yale University, New Haven, CT.
Oil on canvas; 22 3/8 x 30 3/8 in. (56.8 x 77.1 cm). Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA.
Oil on canvas. Penn Medicine, Pennsylvania Hospital Historic Collections, Philadelphia, PA.
Oil on canvas; 12 ft 2-1/2 in. x 17 ft. 3 in. (3.7 x 5.3 m). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA.
Oil on canvas; 17 1/8 x 14 in. (43.5 x 35.6 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY.
Oil on canvas. Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Monticello, Charlottesville, VA.
Oil on canvas. United States Military Academy, West Point, NY.
Gouache and pencil on paper, laid down on paper; 24.13 cm (9.5 in.) x 15.88 cm (6.25 in). Private collection.