John Wollaston ( c. 1710—c. 1775)

by John Wollaston ( c. 1710—c. 1775)

Oil on canvas. The Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, VA.

by John Wollaston ( c. 1710—c. 1775)

Oil on canvas. Fraunces Tavern Museum, New York, NY.

by John Wollaston ( c. 1710—c. 1775)

Oil on canvas; 32 5/8 in. x 26 in. (829 mm x 660 mm). National Portrait Gallery, London, England.

attrib. John Wollaston ( c. 1710—c. 1775)

Oil on canvas. The George Washington Foundation, Kenmore Plantation, Fredericksburg, VA.

attrib. John Wollaston ( c. 1710—c. 1775)

Oil on canvas. The George Washington Foundation, Kenmore Plantation, Fredericksburg, VA.

by John Wollaston ( c. 1710—c. 1775)

Oil on canvas. National Portrait Gallery (Smithsonian), Washington, DC.

by John Wollaston ( c. 1710—c. 1775)

Oil on canvas; 30 x 25 in. (76.2 x 63.5 cm). New York Historical Society, New York, NY.

by John Wollaston ( c. 1710—c. 1775)

Oil on canvas; 30 x 25 in. (76.2 x 63.5 cm). New York Historical Society, New York, NY.

by John Wollaston ( c. 1710—c. 1775)

Oil on canvas; 30 1/8 H x 25 W. Albany Institute of History and Art, Albany, NY.

by John Wollaston ( c. 1710—c. 1775)

Oil on canvas; 50 x 40 in. (127.0 x 101.6 cm). Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI.

America had a common language, unlike the European nations, none of which was linguistically homogeneous. in 1789 the majority of Frenchmen did not speak French but were divided by a variety of provincial patois. Englishmen from Yorkshire were incomprehensible to those from Cornwall and vice versa. By contrast, Americans could understand one another from Maine to Georgia. It was very obvious why this should be so, said John Witherspoon, president of Princeton. Since Americans were much more unsettled, and move frequently from place to place, they are not as liable to local peculiarities, either in accent or phraseology.

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