From Indian Princess to Greek Goddess the American Image, 1783-1815 Author(s): E. McClung Fleming Source: Winterthur Portfolio, Vol. 3 (1967), pp. 37-66 Published by: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, Inc. Stable URL: Accessed: 09/12/2010 14:47 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected]

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From to

Indian Greek

Princess Goddess

The American Image, 1783-1815 E. McCLUNG FLEMING

iWth its independence and freedom established by the Treaty of Paris in 1783, the United States of America set forth on the adventure of nationhood. The adoption of the Federal Constitution, the successful presidential administrations of Washington, the admission of the first new states, and evidences of growth and prosperity inspired Americans of every station to feel the promise of American life and the significance, for all mankind, of their experiment in republican government. The ideals of liberty, independence, federal union, opportunity, and plenty were held to be part of the legacy of the new nation and their attainment within reach. In the national pride and aspiration of this era, there was continuous need to refer to the new nation as a living entity with a palpable spirit. Following an ancient impulse, Americans personified their country for a hundred purposes and occasions-to represent a grateful nation on Congressional medals, a dignified nation on official coins, a unified and prosperous nation on banners carried in civic parades, a nation interested in the arts and sciences on frontispieces of national magazines, a noble, attractive nation in prints to be placed on the walls of homes, a heroic, powerful nation on the sculptured decoration of public buildings. The United States was actively and continuously represented by symbolic figures giving it a needed public image during the years from 1783 to 1815. The figures which artists employed to personify the country during these years reflect variant ways of thinking and feeling about the early Republic both in this country and abroad. WINTERTHUR



An analysis of this image immediately discovers a rich variety of symbolic figures used. In the immediately preceding era, from the beginning of the revolutionary consciousness in the Stamp Tax protests of 1765 through the military struggles of the embattled confederation to the peace of 1783, the American cause had been almost universally represented by the figure of the Indian Princess. Derived from the Indian Queen denoting the western hemisphere in the vigorous tradition of the Four Continents, the Indian Princess evolved from a dependent daughter to a free sister of Britannia. As attributes she acquired the liberty cap, the rattlesnake, and the American flag.' It is doubtless natural that the following period could show no such unanimity in its choice of a symbol. More persons, on more occasions, were prompted to personify the nation, and more currents of taste were present to influence the artist's eye. The first conclusion one reaches about the American image of these years, therefore, is that there was no single interpretation of it. What one discovers is the simultaneous use of four main figures. The Indian Princess is the first-familiar, historically venerable, remaining a vigorous, welldefined configuration. The second is the very popular Plumed Greek Goddess, a neoclassical transformation of the Indian Princess. Third, there were the three classical deities-Hercules, Minerva, and Liberty, with the latter predominating, and finally, the newly minted Columbia. A second conclusion about the American image is that no one of these four main symbolic figures seemed clearly to dominate the others, nor does there seem to be any steady development of preference for one over the other. Congressional medals favored, first, the Indian Princess, later Columbia; government coins, the American Liberty; decorative prints, the Plumed Goddess; cartoonists, Columbia. A third conclusion is that the impulse to personify the new country during these years of the neoclassic movement seems to have been marked more by eulogy and apostrophe than by humor, social criticism, or lusty patriotism. The Indian Princess, the Plumed Goddess, the American Liberty, and Columbia were the polite fancies of do gentlemen of the genteel tradition. What the vernacular spirit would of War 1812, the after becomes American with the vividly apparent image when first Brother Jonathan and then Uncle Sam bring an altogether fresh earthiness and colloquialism to the subject. A fourth conclusion is that whichever personification of America was used, it was rarely used alone, and it was typically only a visual focal point States among several rich, expressive symbols associated with the United the than more important of America. These symbols, indeed, are perhaps Most personification and are certainly a fascinating study in themselves. basic is the American flag. Two other symbols, of equal importance, derive from the Great Seal: the American escutcheon or shield with its thirteen field stripes and chief, and the American eagle, sometimes shown on the of the American flag, sometimes on the shield, often standing protectively on the ground or flying in the air. Also popular during these years was the chain of states, ranging from thirteen to sixteen, with its vivid representation of the national motto, e pluribus unum, and the "new constellation" of the stars of the states. Other basic symbols were the liberty pole and cap, and the Liberty Tree. Often associated with liberty was the ideal 'E. MCCLUNGFLEMING, "The American Image as Indian Princess, 1765-1783," Winterthur Portfolio, II (1965), 65-81.




of Independence,sometimeswritten on a banner, often representedby a date, July 4, 1776. Occasionallythe Constitution,representedby a temple with thirteen columns,would appear. Almost as importantas the flag and the eagle was George Washington, sometimes delineated in full length, more often in a portrait bust or profile, almost always in his uniform as a general. Frequentlywith Washington, occasionally alone, would appear Franklin, sometimes in a Roman toga, often in his coonskinhat. Along with Washington and Franklin might be invoked the memory of other Revolutionary War generals, statesmen, and battles. Four especially Americansymbolswere the rattlesnake,the composite Negro-Indian Boy, the hogshead of tobacco, and Niagara Falls. Finally, the cornucopia frequently suggests American.abundance. Analysis of the personificationsof the United States is the more puzzling because the chief American symbols appeared with each of the four main personificationsand furthermorebecausethe names "Minerva," "Liberty," "Columbia,"and "America"were often used interchangeably. It is obvious that the impulse to representthe United States was strong, the vocabularyof meaningful symbols was rich, the resulting image was various. Perhaps the uncertaintyof the image reflectsa measureof uncertainty of self-interpretationby the young nation in a period of ambitious and turbulentself-identificationin the family of nations. THE INDIAN PRINCESS The oldest and most durable of these representationsof the United States was the Indian Princess. Insofar as the new Federal government could give officialsanction to a symbolicfigure, it was this one. In three Congressionalmedals and one Presidentialmedal commissionedand executed between 1787 and 1791 to commemorateoutstandingservicesto the American cause in the Revolutionary War, the Indian Princess regally representedthe nation. The men who were establishing precedents for the new Federal Republicwere intensely alive to the importanceof presentationmedals to honor national heroes and to commemorategreat events.2 "Having," as Jefferson put it, "but little confidencein our own ideas in an art not familiar here,"3 he and his associates were determinedto seek the best advicepossible for medallictraditions,procedures,and practitioners. They turnedto Franceand askedassistanceof the royal Academiedes inscriptions et belles-lettres in Paris. The Academie responded in the most cordial way, appointingcommissionsof its membersto design the medals on the basis of information supplied by the Americans. Several high American officialsin Paris, notably Franklin,Humphreys,and Jefferson,were designated to receive the designs from the Academie and to commissionmedalists. All but one of the fifteen medals commissionedby the United States between 1783 and 1789 in commemorationof services in the Revolution were made in France in this manner, and these include the series of four Indian Princessmedals.4 2

See David Humphreys to Secretary Franklin to John Jay, May 10, 1785, United States of America, 1776-1876 aThomas Jefferson to William Short, 4 LOUBAT,I, x-xvi.



of the French Academy, Mar. 14, 1785, and Benjamin as quoted in J. F. LOUBAT,The Medallic History of The (New York: Privately printed, 1878), I, xiii-xv. Apr. 30, 1790, as quoted in LOUBAT I, 118.


Fig. 1 Augustin Dupre, Brigadier-GeneralDaniel Mlorgan. Paris, 1789. Medal, bronze; Diam. 56 mm. (Smithsonian Institution, Division of Numismatics).

The first of these was the gold medal inscribed to Brigadier General Daniel Morgan by act of Congress on March 9, 1781, for his victory at Cowpens on January 17, 1781 (Fig. 1). The execution of this medal, along with five others, was entrusted to Colonel David Humphreys on his mission to France in 1785. On the advice of Franklin, Humphreys commissioned Augustin Dupre to design and cut the dies. Dupre was one of the most distinguished medal engravers of the age. At this time he was engraver of medals and medalist of the royal Academie de peinture et de sculpture, and was soon to become engraver-general of the Paris mint. He had become a close friend of Franklin's four years previously, and as a consequence had acquired a warm enthusiasm for the American cause. Humphreys had to return to the United States before Dupre completed the medal, and Jefferson took over the negotiations early in 1789, effecting at least one important change in the inscriptions. When finished, the Morgan medal was not only a fine example of the art of "the great Dupre," but also an outstanding example of numismatic skill.5 On the obverse, a lovely Indian Princess is shown barefooted; she is dressed in a feathered skirt and a feathered bonnet, her quiver slung over her shoulder, her bow in one hand, and the other crowning Morgan with a wreath of laurel. The American shield, on which hangs a branch of laurel, leans against a captured enemy cannon in the background. The second and third medals in this series honored Brigadier General Anthony Wayne and Major John Stewart for their gallant conduct in the capture of Stony Point on July 15, 1779. Congress authorized the medals on July 26, 1779, but it was not until 1789 that Jefferson, then in Paris as '

I, xi-xxii. LOUBAT,




Fig. 2 Nicolas Marie Gatteaux, Brigadier-GeneralAnthony WJayne. Paris, 1789.

Medal,lead;Diam.52 mm. (AmericanNumismaticSociety,Photo: MaryE. Norton). the American minister, accomplished their execution.6 Again the French Academie appointed a commission to compose the devices and inscriptions, and again Dupre received a request to execute them. This time he was unable to accept and assigned the task to an associate, Nicolas Marie Gatteaux, engraver of medals to the king. Gatteaux's modeling is not as decisive, sharp, and graceful as Dupre's, but in general he followed the interpretation of the Indian Princess originated by Dupre. In the Wayne medal (Fig. 2), the Indian Princess stands barefooted in her feathered skirt and bonnet, a sash tied at her back, a quiver of arrows over her shoulder, her bow and the American shield at her feet, and presents to Wayne a laurel crown. The medal to Stewart includes an Indian Princess in a similar pose but facing in the opposite direction and with a slightly different arrangement of cap and skirt, leaning on the American shield, and presenting a palm branch to Stewart.7 President Washington ordered in 1790 the fourth medal, known then and now as "The Diplomatic Medal." Jefferson promptly entrusted its execution to William Short in Paris and recommended either Duvivier or Dupre as the medalist, although favoring the latter.8 Following the now well-established procedure, Short secured counsel from representatives of the French Academie, then commissioned Dupre to execute the design. It is evident from Jefferson's discussion of the design that he relied on the French scholars to compose the final devices.9 The obverse, bearing the 6

I, xix; xxxv, note 1; xli-xliii. LOUBAT, PI. V. 8 LOUBAT,I, x, xxix, 115, 117-118. 9Jefferson to William Short, Apr. 30, 1790, as quoted in LOUBATI, xxix.





Fig. 3 Augustin Dupre, The Diplomatic Medal. Paris, 1790. Medal, bronze; Diam. 67 mm. (Smithsonian Institution, Division of Numismatics).

legend "To peace and Commerce," and the date in exergue July 4, 1776 (Fig. 3), depicts the United States as an Indian Princess seated amid bales of merchandise. She is barefooted, wears a feathered skirt and a bonnet, bears a cape and quiver over one shoulder, and holds a cornucopia filled with fruits. She is welcoming Mercury (Commerce) to her shores, and is calling his attention to her cargoes packed ready for shipment. The sea and a ship under full sail appear in the right background. The reverse bears the Great Seal of the United States. Only two persons, the Marquis de la Luzerne, and the Count de Moustier, received the Diplomatic Medal. From the Declaration of Independence in 1776 until the opening of a mint in 1792, Americans took a great deal of interest in the types of coins that might be adopted by the United States, and many suggested experimental patterns that were coined by private individuals. The most interesting of these, from the standpoint of the Indian Princess theme, is the one designed and cast by the Englishman Thomas Wyon of Birmingham in 1785, and it is doubly interesting because Jefferson may have helped with the design. The pattern, known as Inimica Tyrannis America from the legend inscribed on it, shows the Indian Princess standing beside the altar 42



Fig. 4 Thomas Wyon, Inimica Tyrannis America. Birmingham, 1785. Pattern coin, silver; Diam. 29 mm. (American Numismatic Society, Photo: Mary E. Norton).

of liberty with her right foot on the British crown10 (Fig. 4). In her right hand is an arrow, in her left a bow, and at her back a quiver of arrows. In May of the year inscribed on this coin pattern, Jefferson had sent from Paris to a Congressional committee certain "Propositions Respecting the Coinage of Gold, Silver and Copper."" In these, Jefferson refers to a proposal for an American gold "crown" piece, so-named from his proposal of a design with "An Indian, his right foot on a crown, a bow in his left hand, in his right hand thirteen arrows; and the inscription Manus Inimica Tyrannis ...." In Wyon's pattern, the Indian is a Princess, and the legend has been altered, but the similarity to Jefferson's suggestion is obvious. Indeed, it is quite possible that Jefferson either talked or corresponded with Wyon on the subject.12 Three compositions made during the years 1784-1800 present the The Early Coins of America (Boston: Privately printed, 1875), pp. 309, 314-316, Fig. 57; P1. VII, Nos. 11, 13. 11The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. JULIAN P. BOYD(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1953), 7, p. 202. 2 WALTERBREEN and LYNN GLASER,"Miss Liberty's American Debut," Numismatic Journal, 2 (1961), 3-17. 10 SYLVESTERS. CROSBY,




Fig. 5 Henry Gardiner, Governors of Ye United States of America. Wordsworth, Surrey, England, ca. 1784. Printed linen and cotton handkerchief; Plate: H. 26'2", W. 29" (Winterthur 59.957).

United States as the Indian Princess in scenes which commemorate persons and events associated with the war of independence. One of these, an English commemorative handkerchief of about 1784 designed by Henry Gardiner at Wordsworth, Surrey, bears at the top the legend "Governors of ye United States of America" (Fig. 5). The governors of the thirteen states appear in a list below the heading. Banners to the right and left of the central vignette memorialize the chief events of the years 1776-1783: the Declaration of Independence, the ratification of the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, the signing of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce with France, and the Treaty of Alliance with France. Profile portraits of John Hancock, Henry Laurens, General Lincoln, and General Greene appear in each corner. All of these elements create an elaborate frame of historic memory and national pride for the central tableau. Here a tawny Indian Princess sits on a marble throne beneath a flourishing palm 44



Fig. 6 JeanBaptisteHuet,

4Almerica Paying Homage to France.

Jouy,France,1783-1790. Printedcottontextile; H. (Patternrepeat)

39", WV.362" (Winterthur 52.348).

tree; she appears with her usual insignia of a feathered skirt and bonnet, a cape, a bow, a quiver of arrows. Four figures are grouped around her. To the right stands Washington. Dressed smartly in the uniform of a general, he presents to the Princess with a courtly gesture a female figure holding a liberty pole and cap identified in the text as "Independence." A cherub is in the act of crowning Washington with a wreath. To the left stands "Dr. Franklin," dressed as a Roman Senator and holding a scroll. Commerce, seated before him, offers the produce of different nations to the Princess. In the background, a rising sun denotes the beginning of a new era, and a ship bearing the United States flag suggests the promise of commercial prosperity. Historians may label the years 1783-1788 the "Critical Years," but Gardiner's design suggests that to some minds the memory of past achievements and the thought of future promise could place the Indian Princess in a beatific vision. A textile pattern designed by Jean Baptiste Huet and manufactured by Oberkampf between 1783 and 1790 is one of several expressing gratitude to France for her contribution to the defeat of England. This toile de Jouy is entitled America Paying Homage to France (Fig. 6). The queenly figure of France is seated to the right of the scene, in front of soldiers in armor; she wears a crown and rests her arm on a shield bearing the three fleurs-de-lis. Before her, in homage, is the Indian Princess. She stands under a cocoanut tree, dressed in a feathered bonnet, feathered skirt, and a flowing cape; she holds a club and is accompanied by an alligator. Just behind her stands the Goddess of Liberty with liberty cap and pole, and behind this figure stands a young colonial in a coonskin cap carrying on his shoulder a standard with a huge American flag. A young naked Negro youth crouches behind all of these figures. He holds a book in his left hand and in his right a sheet inscribed with linked circles. WINTERTHUR



A French aquatint of 1786, designed by Jean Duplessi-Bertaux and engraved by Lucien Roger, depicts the Indian Princess in one more scene celebrating the Franco-American alliance of the Revolution. The Princess, very much an Indian, stands barefooted, dressed in an animal skin and her feathered bonnet. In her right hand she bears Mercury's caduceus, in her left hand the liberty pole and cap planted on the neck of the vanquished British lion cowering beneath her foot near the fragments of a broken trident. Beside the Princess, in the center, stands a marble column on a pedestal inscribed: "America and the Seas, Oh Louis! will remember you their liberator." Above the pedestal, in a pyramid, appear three medallions: the top bears a portrait of Louis XVI, the two at the bottom place side by side Franklin and Washington (spelled "Waginston"). A sphere emblazoned with three French lilies surmounts the top of the monument and supports a crowing cock. Two palm trees appear to the right of the scene; a banner entwined about one of these bears the legend "En m'elevant, je m'embellis." Bales of goods appear in a stack at the left, and in the background a merchant ship sails to sea.13 THE PLUMED GREEK GODDESS Although some designers chose to continue the old tradition of the Indian Princess, others, impelled by a new phase of classicism, gave the Princess an unmistakably Graeco-Roman look. Popularized in England by Robert Adam, the new classicism did not become popular in the United States until late in the 1780's, when it affected poetry, oratory, and dress as well as architecture, painting, sculpture, and the decorative arts. Part of the new classical spirit was a fresh taste for allegory and symbol making. Gentlemen on both sides of the Atlantic set to work borrowing from Greek and Roman mythology to adapt old figures or create new ones to represent the United States. Some favored Hercules and Minerva, many the Goddess of Liberty, almost everyone a new deity, Columbia. The first result of this neoclassic movement was the transformation of the Indian Princess into a Greek goddess, and a Greek goddess always depicted near a classical pyramid, altar, pedestal, or urn usually dedicated to the memory of George Washington and other Revolutionary heroes, and very often accompanied by an assortment of figures from classical mythology. The Princess is most clearly "Indian" when barefooted, scantily dressed in feathered skirt and bonnet, and armed with bow and arrow, tomahawk, or club; the Goddess is most clearly "classical" when wearing sandals, fully draped in Grecian dress, helmeted or bareheaded, and armed with shield and spear or sword. The new symbolic figures, however, sometimes constitute an intermediate stage when it is often not clear whether the Indian Princess in her feathered headdress has changed into Grecian dress or whether a Greek goddess has put on a feathered headdress. The clue is in the change from eagle feathers to ostrich plumes worn in a bonnet, helmet, or turban. The ostrich plumes maintain a certain continuity of outward tradition with the Indian Princess while in reality expressing a radical change of spirit. Actually, they represent neither an American nor a classical reality, but a European fad. There was something very real about the Indian Princess. She be13ALTON

KETCHUM, Uncle Sam: The Man and The Legend (New York: Hill & Wang, 1959),

p. 17, Fig. 24.




Fig. 7 The Apotheosis of Washington and Franklin.

England,1785. Printedcottontextile; (Winterthur55.15.6,Detail Fig. 9).

longed to a historical race of men who actually lived in a particular corner of the world; she was earthy, and human, and involved in three hundred years of colonization and conquest in the New World. She had personified the western hemisphere since the mid-sixteenth century and the United States since the mid-eighteenth century. In the American selfidentification with this idealized being there was a significant and unconscious projection of cultural values.14 On the other hand, the Plumed Greek Goddess, to coin a name for a figure that was never otherwise identified than as "America," had about her not only the unreal element of artificial invention, but a certain theatrical quality; she lived only in the imagination of her neoclassic creators. Actually, these figures enjoyed independent and parallel lives, the Indian Princess reappearing throughout the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, the Plumed Goddess arising about 1785 and enjoying her greatest popularity between that date and 1815. One of the earliest and most dramatic representations of the Plumed Greek Goddess is found in the upper half of an English printed textile of about 1785 presenting The Apotheosis

of Washington

and Franklin (Fig.

7). Here she is seated in an elegant, golden chariot driven by Washington and drawn by leopards. Her chariot is preceded by two Indian youths blowing trumpets from which wave the American flag and a flag with the "Unite or Die" rattlesnake, and it is followed by soldiers in triumphant procession bearing the American and French flags. The Plumed Goddess, dressed in Grecian gown and cape and bonnet of plumes, is holding in her right hand the staff of Mercury and in her left hand a shield inscribed "American Independence, 1776." Goddess, Washington, chariot, and attendants are being whirled past a tree around which a ribbon is circled with the words "Liberty Tree" and, upside down, "Stamp Act." "4FLEMING,"American Image," p. 69; HENRI BAUDET,Paradise on Earth: Some Thoughts on WENTHOLT(New Haven: Yale European Images of Non-European Man, trans. ELIZABETH University Press, 1965), pp. 55-57.




Fig. 8 America Trampling on Oppression. London, 1789. Engraving; Plate: H. 437", W. 243/-" (New York Public Library, Prints Division, McAlpin Coll. 824).

Fig. 9 America Presenting at the Altar of Liberty Mledallionsof Her Illustrious Sons, based on the engraving by B. Reading published May 1783. England, 1785. Printed cotton textile; H. (Pattern repeat) 36", W. 28" (Winterthur 62.208).

Another example of the Plumed Goddess is in the frontispiece to the Reverend Samuel Cooper's History of North America published in England and in this country in several editions between 1789 and 1793 (Fig. 8). It is entitled America Trampling on Oppression. The setting is an ornate classical portico with two Corinthian columns surmounted by vases of flowers from which hang garlands of flowers. On the columns are medallions of Washington and Franklin, each decorated with elaborate cartouches. In the center of the portico stands the Plumed Goddess wearing Minerva's helmet from which rise three ostrich feathers. She is clothed in flowing Grecian dress, cape, and slippers. In her left hand she holds the liberty pole and cap; her right hand points to heaven. To her right stands a cornucopia pouring out its wealth; her left foot stands on a prostrate British lion. A transitional form between the unmistakable Indian Princess and the clear-cut Plumed Goddess is the figure of the United States in an English print of about 1785 known as America Presenting at the Altar of Liberty, Medallions of Her Illustrious Sons (Fig. 9). The Goddess, with a striking Greek profile but wearing a bonnet of very short plumes, is dressed in a 48



Fig. 10 Mme. Anthony Plantou, The Peace of Ghent and Triumph of America. Philadelphia,ca. 1815. Engraving by Alexis (?) Chataigner; Plate: H. 7'2", W. 9/4" (Cooper Union Museum For The Arts of Decoration, Coll. J. H. Hyde).

long Grecian robe with short tunic and cape, is barefooted, and has neither bow nor spear. Close to her stands Washington, and around the two are several classical deities. Behind Washington is Victory, holding a palm branch and stepping on Britannia's shield and spear; overhead soars Fame with her trumpet and a banner reading "Washington and Independence"; on a marble altar sits Liberty holding her pole and cap. America, in the center of the group, kneels before the altar, and in a cloud of incense presents to Liberty thirteen medallions bearing the names and portraits of Revolutionary heroes headed by Washington and Franklin. Two Philadelphia prints of 1815 indicate how richly conceived the use of the Plumed Goddess might be in the glow of national pride after the War of 1812. The first, entitled Peace of Ghent and Triumph of America (Fig. 10), was engraved by Alexis (?) Chataigner after a painting by Mme. Anthony Plantou, both of whom were French artists working in Philadelphia. The Plumed Goddess stands tall and erect in a Roman chariot drawn by four richly caparisoned horses. Dressed in a short Roman tunic bordered with purple and a long, fringed cape, wearing a bonnet of short feathers and ostrich plumes, with her bow held in her left hand and a quiver of arrows over her shoulder, she holds aloft with her right hand a huge American flag on which is the liberty cap. Behind her hovers Victory, and before her flies the American eagle. She has just passed through a triumphal arch on her way to the temple of peace amidst a cheering throng. To the left, Minerva, Mercury, and Hercules dictate the conditions of peace to a dejected Britannia. On Minerva's shield are inscribed the names of those who signed the treaty, on an obelisk the names of American military and naval heroes, on a pedestal the names of American victories. WINTERTHUR



Fig. 11 John J. Barralet,America Guided By Wisdom. Philadelphia, ca. 1815. Engraving by Benjamin Tanner; Plate: H. 1778", W. 24s8" (Winterthur 58.23.1a).

Less dramatic, but unrivaled in its mood of regal serenity is the print of the Plumed Greek Goddess drawn by John J. Barralet and engraved by Benjamin Tanner in Philadelphia about 1815 entitled America Guided by Wisdom: an allegorical representation of the United States denoting their Independence and Prosperity (Fig. 1 1 ). To the right is a triumphant arch under which, on a pedestal, is a heroic equestrian statue of Washington. In the background, Mercury, standing beside bales of goods, gestures toward three ships in a harbor, pointing out "the advantages of encouraging and protecting navigation" to Ceres, who is seated with implements of Agriculture near her. She leans against a beehive, and a woman spins at a cottage door. In the center sits the Plumed Goddess as "The Genius of America," beautiful in her long, dark hair, her plumed bonnet, and flowing dress and cape. She supports a shield bearing the arms of the United States with the motto "Union and Independence," and at her feet is the horn of plenty. Beside her, as protectress and counselor, stands a regal Minerva, Goddess of Wisdom. Surely this is one of the most happily conceived of all the representations of the United States in these years. The theme of the Four Continents that fascinated and delighted Europe as early as the sixteenth century continued in popularity during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Two aspects of its vogue should be noted. On the one hand, the iconography of the Indian Queen of the Western Hemisphere is often inappropriately transferred to the Indian Princess of the United States, especially in the work of French engravers. In both the medals engraved by Gatteaux, for example, and the toile designed by Huet, the alligator appears at the feet of the Princess. In Huet's design, the Princess is armed with a club instead of the customary bow and quiver of arrows, and she stands under a palm tree. The palm 50



Fig. 12 America. London, 1808. Hand-colored Mezzotint; Plate: H. 834", W. 6'4" (New York Public Library, Prints Division, McAlpin Coll. 827x).

Fig. 13 The Four Continents. England, ca. 1815. Printed cotton handkerchief; H. 322", W. 28" (Winterthur 64.1484).

and the cocoanut, indeed, turn up continuously in compositions depicting the United States. On the other hand, the iconography of the personification of the United States is so uncritically transferred to personification of the Western Hemisphere that the Indian Queen of the Fourth Continent is turned into the Indian Princess or the Plumed Goddess of the United States. Two examples will illustrate the range of interpretation. In the set of the Four Continents published by T. Hinton in London in 1808, the figure entitled America is the Indian Princess, dressed in thoroughly Indian garb, with an enormous feathered bonnet and flanked by two murderous Indian tomahawks (Fig. 12). She is guarded by a huge, ferocious rattlesnake, and is riding in a chariot drawn by two tigers. In her right hand she holds the American flag with fifteen stars and a portrait of Washington. In the background is Niagara Falls. The second representation of the Four Continents conveys a much more civilized, dignified impression of the United States. This English commemorative handkerchief of about 1815 (Fig. 13) portrays "America" in the top right corner as a handsome Goddess wearing two ostrich plumes in her hair, a loose Grecian robe with fringed cape and sandals. She holds a liberty pole and cap in her right hand, and with her left supports a shield on which is engraved the eagle of the United States. Against the shield leans a little Negro boy in Indian feathers. Seven English prints published in London between 1789 and 1815 illustrate how popular the theme of the Four Continents was, how frequently the America of "the fourth part of the World" was interpreted as the United States of America, how readily the Plumed Goddess served as the personification of the United States, and how important were the symbols of United States sovereignty. In these compositions, the Plumed WINTERTHUR



Goddess is a youthful, tall brunette dressed in a loose classical gown and cloak and wearing sandals or slippers. The ostrich plumes, numbering from one to ten, are held in place by a fillet or turban. In the foreground are such attributes as the liberty pole and cap, the American flag and shield, the eagle, a marble monument to Washington, and the rattlesnake (associated with the serpent of wisdom). In the background are such American landscape elements as Niagara Falls, cargo vessels, and a mountainous wilderness. These prints also illustrate the popularity of a curious, new American figure-the young African Negro Boy dressed in American Indian feathers. It is as though the elimination of the Indian element from the dress of the Plumed Goddess required restoring it to the concept in the form of the Indian Boy. Perhaps because the Negro was a more familiar American figure than the Indian at this time, artists emphasized the African Negro Boy, but dressed him in Indian feathers. He appeared, be it noted, in the America Paying Homage to France (Fig. 6), and in the Apotheosis of Washington (Fig. 7). The first example (Fig. 13) has been discussed. In the America published by P. Galli in 1804 there are five ostrich plumes, the flag, the marble memorial to Washington with his profile and dates, the rattlesnake, and the Negro-Indian Boy. Here, the latter is sitting on the ground reading from a book with the right-hand page marked "General Washing[ton's] Life."'5 One version of the print is the oil painting on glass at Winterthur (Fig. 14). In the America published by C. and T. Stampa and Co. in the same year (Fig. 15), there are two ostrich plumes, the liberty pole and cap, the shield with the American eagle, and the Negro-Indian Boy. There is also, in the right background, a mountain peak at the foot of which is a lake. Here two men in a boat and one man on shore are trying, with the aid of poles and a dog, to capture a moose that is trying to swim out of reach. The mezzotint America, published by an anonymous engraver in 1806, included four plumes, the American flag with the eagle, a marble pedestal and urn memorializing Washington, and in the left background barrels of merchandise and ships flying the American flag.16 A second print of 1806 presents the Greek Goddess in ten ostrich plumes in a setting which includes the American flag, the marble memorial to Washington, the rattlesnake, a palm tree, and a low Niagara Falls.17 A similar print published by W. B. Walker and P. Stampa in the following year includes a marble memorial to both Washington and Franklin and a huge snake.18 In an America published by P. Dawe in 1812, the Plumed Goddess, in a lush tropical setting that includes a huge partridge in a rose tree, is holding a medallion of Washington and the American flag with the eagle on it, while a ship with an American flag sails in the background.19 This Plumed Goddess of the Four Continents series also appears in prints entitled An Emblem of America. In an engraving published by T. Stampa in 1800, there is a single ostrich plume, the American flag with the eagle, the marble memorial to Washington, the Negro-Indian Boy, and Niagara.20 (In the Garbisch Collection of the National Gallery of Art there is a needlework and watercolor version of this scene in which the McAlpin Washington Collection, No. 827 (New York Public Library, Prints Division). l McAlpin Collection, No. 827x. 17 McAlpin Collection, No. 827. 8 Winterthur Catalogue No. 56.500. ' McAlpin Collection, No. 832. 20Essex Institute Catalogue No. 3083.




Fig. 14 America. London, 1804. Oil on glass; H. 8Y8", W. 64 " (Winterthur 59.846).

Fig. 15 America. London, 1804. Engraving; Plate: H. 1358", W. 934" (Winterthur 65.92.4).

Negro boy has become an Indian girl.21) In another version there are two ostrich plumes, the liberty pole and cap on which flies the American flag with the eagle, an olive branch, the marble memorial to Washington, the rattlesnake, and the Negro-Indian Boy with feathers and a bow, a parrot, and a tobacco barrel.22 HERCULES


While some artists gave the Indian Princess a classical transformation into the Plumed Goddess, others felt the urge to utilize established deities to represent the new American Republic. At least three were so used: Hercules, Minerva, and Liberty. Hercules, the most masculine of all the masculine heroes of antiquity, was often pictured as a friendly associate of America (Fig. 10), but only rarely as the United States itself, for the impulse to use a female figure still dominated. Nevertheless, both Adams and Franklin suggested Hercules as a symbol of the United States. It was in the first Congressional committee appointed to design a Great Seal that Adams proposed Hercules choosing between virtue and sloth "as engraved by Gribelin in some editions of Lord Shaftesbury's works."23 Probably the most famous example of this usage is the reverse of the medal 2

Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch Collection, No. 115 (National Gallery of Art). McAlpin Collection, No. 833xx. 23John Adams to Abigail Adams, Aug. 14, 1776, in Familiar Letters of John Adams and His FRANCISADAMS(New York: Hurd Wife Abigail Adams, During the Revolution, ed. CHARLES & Houghton, 1876), p. 210; GAILLARD HUNT, The History of The Seal of The United States (Washington, D. C.: Department of State, 1909), p. 10.





Fig. 16 AugustinDupre,America As The InfantHercules(Reverse, Libertas Americana) . Paris, 1782.

Fig. 17 The WashingtonPeace Medal. Philadelphia(?), 1789.

Medal, silver; L. 5/4", W.


(Winterthur61.1055). Medal,bronze;Diam.48 mm. (AmericanNumismaticSociety, Photo:Mary E. Norton). Libertas Americana designed and ordered by Benjamin Franklin and executed by the great French medalist Augustin Dupre in 1782 (Fig. 16). The well-designed device shows the United States as the infant Hercules in his cradle strangling two serpents which represent the British armies at Saratoga and Yorktown. Young Hercules is protected by the helmeted Minerva, who stands close by with spear in hand ready to strike the British lion whose attack she wards off with her shield decked with the lilies of France. Several letters from Franklin describe his part in making this device.24 The model for the young Hercules may have come from a Greek coin of Crotona of the fourth century B.C.25 Though not actually voted by Congress, the medal was approved by it and sent by Franklin with Congressional approval to many of the ministers and crowned heads of Europe. When William Rush was commissioned to design an appropriate figurehead for the naval frigate Constitution

in 1796, he decided on the

figure of Hercules. He explained his decision with the comment: "As the Constitution of the Empire is the result of the Union of the States, and the Union begets strength, it ought to be represented by a Herculean figure." He referred to Hercules as "suggesting the gravity or the test of union between the states on a firm rock of Independence." Rush designed a full-length Hercules with uplifted club that, on his recommendation, was carved by John Skillen of Boston.

It served the Constitution

until shot

away at Tripoli in 1804.26 The general feeling about the use of Hercules, however, was probably well expressed by John Quincy Adams in 1825. In judging the Italian sculptor Luigi Persico's model of the Genius of the United States flanked by Justice and Hercules for the tympanum of the pediment over the east portico of the United States Capitol, Adams rejected the Hercules as "having too much of the heathen mythology for my taste."27 24 Franklin to Robert Livingston, Mar. 4, 1782; to Sir William Jones, Mar. 17, 1783. 2 W. C. MOORE,"The Libertas Americana Medal," Numismatist, 25 (1912), 466-468. 2 PAULINEA. PINCKNEY,American Figureheads and Their Carvers (New York: Norton & Co., Inc., 1940), pp. 52, 67-68. 27 The Diary of John Quincy Adams, ed. ALLANNEVINS(New York: Scribner's Sons, 1951), p. 347 (entry of May 31, 1825).




Fig. 18 John Francis Renault, The Triumph of Liberty.

New York, 1796. Engravingby PeterC. Verger;Plate: H. 1878", W. 2438" (Winterthur 58.48).

Minerva, being a goddess, was much more likely to appear as an associate or companion of the Indian Princess and the Plumed Goddess, and on a few occasions she replaced them. On the obverse of the Washington Peace Medal of 1789 (Fig. 17), used in treaties of friendship with the Indians, Minerva as the Roman goddess of wisdom represents the United States. She wears a helmet, coat of mail, and a skirt that reaches to the ground; at her left side is a short sword in a sheath and on the ground a spear and shield adorned with a Medusa head. To the left is a full-length figure of an Indian wearing a headdress of feathers and a blanket draped about his body. Minerva has just let fall her spear and the Indian his tomahawk as the Goddess extends to him the pipe of peace. The crudeness of workmanship suggests the American government's lack of experience with the medallic arts.28 A more fully developed expression of the same allegorical figure is found in a print engraved by Peter C. Verger of New York in 1796 (Fig. 18) after a drawing of 1793 by John Francis Renault entitled The Triiumphl of Liberty and dedicated to "its defenders in America." In the center of a typical grouping of allegorical figures performing patriotic rites in a woodland setting stands a beautiful young lady identified as the Genius of America. She is dressed in the habit and helmet of Minerva, bears a staff with the American flag over her left shoulder, and leans on a shield displaying the American eagle under the constellation. Minerva is pouring a libation on an altar. Behind Minerva is a great tomb bearing urns inscribed to Franklin and Montgomery and having engraved on its side the names of eleven Revolutionary generals and statesmen. To the right, in the background, is an obelisk on which is enthroned the Goddess of Liberty; at its base is an open volume of "The Rights of Man" and below this an urn containing the ashes of "J. J. Rousseau" behind which is a sheet of paper bearing the Marseillaise. The attendants of Liberty, Justice, Peace, and Plenty watch a bonfire which consumes crowns, sceptres, and titles of nobility. At the bottom right cowers, enraged, the kings who have opposed Liberty, and at bottom center is the nine-headed Hydra of 28B. L. NumisBELDEN, Indian Peace Medals Issued in the United States (New York: American

matic Society, 1927), p. 11.




despotism. It was, however, probably typical of American thinking on the subject that, when the directors of the Library Company of Philadelphia were in 1790 invited to choose between Clio, Calliope, and Minerva as the chief figure for an allegorical painting to be especially composed for them by the young Philadelphia painter Samuel Jennings, they decided for Minerva, but stated a strong preference for Liberty over Minerva.29 THE AMERICAN


Use of such established classical deities as Hercules and Minerva as symbolic figures for the United States was rather limited, but the case was different with the Goddess of Liberty. The story of the steady progress with which Liberty became identified with the American cause goes back to the 1760's and is an epic by itself that cannot be told here. Suffice it to say that, though Liberty was often associated with figures representing the United States (the Indian Princess, the Plumed Goddess, Columbia) and though it was very common for figures representing the United States to hold the pole and cap of Liberty, it also became common to portray the Goddess of Liberty as so intimately identified with the American cause as in effect to become "Americanized." This might be by her holding or being dressed in the American flag, supporting the American shield, being guarded by the American eagle, being associated with thirteen stars or the date of July 4, 1776. In these cases we have either Liberty representing the United States or the United States interpreted as Liberty. For these reasons one might name this figure "The American Liberty" and classify it as the third of the classical divinities identified with the United States. Four examples must suffice. The obverse of the Libertas Almericana medal executed by Dupre represents the American Liberty in profile as a beautiful young woman with dishevelled hair floating in the wind and carrying the liberty pole and Phrygian cap over her shoulder (Fig. 19). Underneath the head is the date of July 4, 1776. Charles Blanc, a member of the French Academie des beaux arts, perfectly caught the spirit of the composition when he wrote in 1870: "Dupre has represented the new born Liberty, sprung from the prairies without ancestry and without rulers, In as a youthful virgin, with dishevelled hair and dauntless aspect ....30 accordance with the resolution of Congress of April 6, 1792, establishing the United States Mint at Philadelphia, the American Liberty became the dominant device on the first coins to be minted by the United States government. The cent and half-cent, the only denominations to be struck in 1793, carried a bust of Liberty engraved by Joseph Wright that was copied directly from Dupre's Libertas lmericana. Later mintings, though differing from Dupre's design, can also be considered examples of the American Liberty. Another treatment of this figure is illustrated by The Goddess of Liberty with the Portrait of Jefferson engraved in 1807 and published in Salem, Mvassachusetts (Fig. 20). In the center, the Goddess of Liberty is seated on the globe, her liberty pole and cap over her shoulder, one foot on "the emblems of monarchy," supporting on her knee the portrait of Thomas Jefferson. While pointing to Jefferson, she gazes gratefully at a portrait of 2


ROBERTC. SMITH,Liberty Displaying The Arts and Sciences: A Philadelphia Allegory by Samuel Jennings," Winterthur Portfolio, II (1965), 88-89. As quoted in LOUBAT, I, xxii.




Fig. 19


Diam.48 mm. (AmericanNumismatic Society,Photo: Mary E. Norton).

ff liIf E

E .Hi


. of Fig. 20 Goddess

(Essex Institute)


Washington on a pyramid in front of her. A glory of sixteen stars for the sixteen states surrounds her head and sends its rays across the heavens; a large American eagle seated at her side thrusts his head protectingly over her lap. In the four corners are Britannia, Neptune, Fame, and Abundance. Benjamin Latrobe was appointed supervising architect for the Capitol of the United States in 1803, and one of his first tasks was to complete the Hall of the House of Representatives in the South Wing. For the semicircular, vaulted chamber which he designed, he planned, with Jefferson's approval, three major elements of decorative sculpture-a great eagle fourteen feet from wing tip to wing tip in the frieze over the Speaker's desk; four heroic figures in relief representing Agriculture, Art, Science, and Commerce near the entrance; and a colossal figure of Liberty to rise behind the Speaker's chair. To execute these pieces, Latrobe brought over from Italy WINTERTHUR



Fig. 21 Enrico Causici, Liberty and the Eagle. Washington, D. C., 1817. Plaster; H. 13'7" (Architect of the Capitol, Washington, D. C.).

the talented young sculptor Giuseppe Franzoni.31 The plaster cast of Franzoni's American Liberty was put in place in 1807. Eight feet and six inches in height, the seated figure of Liberty held the liberty cap in one hand and the Constitution of the United States in the other, with one foot placed on a reversed crown and other emblems of monarchy and bondage. The American eagle stood by her side.32 Franzoni's Liberty was destroyed in the fire set to the Capitol by British troops in 1814. It was replaced by a plaster statue made by Enrico Causici in 1817 (Fig. 21). This regal Liberty, clothed in flowing classical garb, stands gracefully with the extended right arm holding the Constitution 31TALBrr HAMLIN,Benjamin Henry Latrobe (New York: Oxford University Press, 1955), pp.

267-269. HENRY LATROBEin the National Intelligencer (Washington, D. C.), Nov. 30, 1807, 1st p.; S. D. WYETH, The Federal City (Washington, D. C.: Gibson Bros., 1865), pp. 77-78.





of the United States, the other resting on her hip. On her right she is guarded by a splendid American eagle; on her left she is supported by the serpent of wisdom, recalling the American rattlesnake, which encircles a column-like altar. The most original, popular, and durable of the emblems inspired by classical mythology was "Columbia." This was a poetic personification of the United States derived from the name of Christopher Columbus. Just when and where the name was first used is not clear. Chief Justice Samuel Sewall of the Massachusetts Bay Colony may have been the first to use the name "Columbia" for the New World in his Phaenomena Quaedam Apocalyptica of 1697. The first English use of the name Columbia was probably in the Gentleman's Magazine in the 1730's with a reference to "Columbia, which is the Lilliputian name for the country that answers our America."33 The first use of Columbia in an American publication may have been in a book of poems published in Boston as early as 1761.34Thereafter it appears in a poem published in the Massachusetts Gazette in 1764, in three patriotic poems and songs published in colonial newspapers in 1775, and from then on with increasing frequency. Timothy Dwight's exuberantly patriotic song "Columbia" was written while he was serving in General Parson's brigade of Connecticut volunteers in 1777, immediately became popular among Washington's troops, and was published in many editions. Two American warships during the War of Independence were named Columbia. King's College became Columbia in 1784, and the home of the new national capital was named The District of Columbia. Joseph Hopkinson's "Hail Columbia" appeared in 1798 and Joel Barlow's Columbiad in 1807. The name was given to newspapers, magazines, almanacs, towns, counties, rivers, ships, and railroad lines. The name recalled not only the fact of the discovery of America, but also the symbolic notion that America, through the voyage of Columbus, linked the Occident to the Orient in the great westward flow of civilization. Whereas the Indian Princess was a popular figure with artists but not, apparently, with writers, Columbia was created by writers and vigorously used by poets, orators, and composers of songs, but was not for some time given visual expression by artists. Indeed, popular though the name and concept was, there did not develop in the visual arts any one representation for this newly created classical divinity. What seems clear is that Columbia never wore a feathered Indian bonnet or skirt, or an ostrich plume in her hair; that she was never portrayed with a bow and quiver of arrows, a tomahawk or club; that neither the alligator nor the rattlesnake ever accompanied her. On the other hand, she was frequently shown with the liberty pole and cap, the American flag, shield, and eagle, the chain of states, the thirteen stars, and the dates of the Declaration of Independence and the formulation of the Constitution. Simultaneously she might sometimes have the helmet, shield, and spear of Minerva. Usually dressed in a modest white, she later, like Britannia, came to be dressed in the national banner. Taking the treatment of Columbia's head and headdress as the basis of an informal classification, one can distinguish at least four versions of the subject during these years: Columbia bareheaded, with a laurel wreath, with a helmet, and with a tiara. Later, she is also depicted wearing a liberty 33Columbia University, President's Annual Report (1929), pp. 27-28. S3ALBERT H. HOYT, "The Name 'Columbia,'" New England Historical and Genealogical Register, XL (1886), 311.




cap. Though Columbia was often merged with Minerva and Liberty, she was never associated with the Plumed Goddess. Perhaps the earliest and certainly one of the most persistent versions was the bareheaded Columbia. At the request, in 1782, of the third committee of Congress charged with devising a Great Seal of the United States, William Barton, Philadelphia nephew of David Rittenhouse, proposed a thoughtfully detailed interpretation of this figure as one of the supporters of the arms in his device for the reverse of the Seal. "On the dexter side," he wrote of his second design, "the Genius of the American Confederated Republic; represented by a Maiden, with flowing Auburn Tresses; clad in a long, loose White Garment, bordered with Green; having a Sky-blue Scarf, charged with Stars as in the Arms, reaching across her Waist from her right Shoulder to her left Side; and, on her Head, a radiated Crown of Gold, encircled with an Azure Fillet spangled with Silver Stars; round her Waist a purple Girdle, embroidered with the Word 'Virtus,' in Silver:-a Dove, proper, perched on her dexter Hand." 35 Barton's proposal was not adopted but several elements in his blazon were to appear again. The bareheaded Columbia appears in the first three frontispieces of the Columbian Magazine or Monthly Miscellany, which began publication in Philadelphia in 1786. In each, Columbia is a young maiden dressed in a simple, long, white gown. In the first one, her hair bound by a star-spangled fillet, Columbia is leading a young boy and girl, presumably her children. Before her stands Minerva, armed with plumed helmet and spear, resting an elbow on an altar on which are a bound volume and a globe, and from which hangs a scroll inscribed "Independence the reward of Wisdom, Fortitude and Perseverance." In the background are a man ploughing and two ships sailing. Below this scene, a verse reads: While Commercespreadsher canvasso'er the main And Agricultureploughsthe gratefulplain Minerva aids Columbia's rising race With arms to triumph and with arts to grace.

In the frontispiece for the second volume (Fig. 22), engraved by James Trenchard, Columbia, identified by the editor as the "Genius of the United States," is a young lady holding a cornucopia who is being invited by Concord into a temple representing the newly ratified Constitution. This was a symbolic usage followed widely in civic processions celebrating the ratification of the Constitution in the late spring and early summer of 1788.36 According to the text, this building is "a plain but stately edifice, in a durable style of architecture; its portico, seen entire, is composed of thirteen columns of the Tuscan order, supporting a pediment decorated with the armorial insignia of the United States. Beneath is this inscription, 'Sacred to Liberty, Justice, and Peace.' Above, the statues emblematical of those attributes. Two of the columns are cracked-in allusion to the nonconcurring states." Clio, the muse of history, kneels, ready to record the event; the rising sun dispels the clouds which obscure the horizon; Time, at a distance, rests on his scythe admiring what he sees. The third volume of the Columbian Magazine included a frontispiece in which Columbia sits beneath a palm tree, an open book in her left hand 35As quoted in HUNT, The History of The Seal of The United States, p. 29; illustr. opp. p. 28. "WHITFIELD J. BELL, JR., "The Federal Procession of 1788," Ne,w-York Historical So'iety Quarterly, XLVI (1962), 5-39.




Fig. 22 James Trenchard, Columbia and the Constitution. Philadelphia, 1788. Engraving;

Fig. 23 Columbia Aggrieved by William Cobbett. 1796 (?). Engraving; Plate: H. 72", W. 9,4" (Historical Society of Pennsylvania).

Plate: H. 523", W. 31/6"

(Historical Society of Pennsylvania).

and a quill pen in her right. Beside her is a globe, at her feet a cornucopia, in the foreground books. At her back is the liberty pole and cap, and her right elbow rests on a shield bearing the American eagle and the new constellation of stars. A male figure who is holding a lyre and pointing to the Temple of Fame in the background exhorts Columbia in terms which many an earnest well-wisher for the young Republic must have echoed: America! with Peace and Freedom blest, Pant for true Fame, and scorn inglorious rest: Science invited; urg'd by the Voice divine, Exert thy self, 'till every Art be thine.

A colored print published in Philadelphia in 1800 entitled Columbia Lamenting the Loss of Her Son depicts Columbia mourning the death of Washington. She is dressed in a red blouse and a blue and white striped shirt and has a black scarf over her head.37 When American political cartoons of the period represented the United States, it was usually with the figure of Columbia. One well-executed anti-Federalist line engraving of 1796, entitled See Porcupine, in Colours Just Portrayed, shows Columbia weeping at the spectacle of the acid Federalist newspaper editor William Cobbett "spewing venom" while encouraged by Britannia and the Devil (Fig. 23). Behind Columbia, a huge American eagle holding the liberty pole and cap under its wing bows its head in mortification. Columbia bends over a portrait of Franklin which stands on a base inscribed "Independence declared 4 July 1776." At the foot of the base are papers relating to the impressment of American seamen by the British navy. s7Mt. Vernon Ladies Association of the Union, Report (1940), p. 29.




Though all the first Congressional medals that depicted the United States utilized the symbolic figure of the Indian Princess, a few later ones employed that of Columbia. In fact, in discussing the device for the reverse of the Diplomatic Medal of 1790 with William Short, Jefferson wrote that "one suggestion has been a Columbia (a fine female figure)."'3 The bareheaded Columbia appears on two Congressional medals designed by Moritz Furst, who became die maker to the United States Mint in 1808. The first was the award to William Henry Harrison commemorating his victory at the Battle of the Thames in 1813, and the second was to Andrew Jackson for his victory at New Orleans in 1815.3D One of the most crowded allegorical compositions employing the bareheaded Columbia was painted by John Coles, Jr., and engraved by E. G. Gridley in 1810. Columbia, as the Genius of America, is presented in a loose gown, with spear and American shield. Around her and a pyramidal monument bearing a medallion of Washington are grouped Minerva, War, Liberty, Truth, assorted cherubs, and Fame with a trumpet to which is attached a banner bearing the names of Washington's victories-Trenton, Princeton, Monmouth, Yorktown.4? Three vernacular treatments of the bareheaded Columbia have great charm and vitality. The first is an oil on canvas owned by the New York State Historical Association which may be one of six window shades from a Connecticut tavern painted between 1800 and 1810 by an unknown artist (Fig. 24). It shows a young lady in Empire dress, tunic, and sandals with dark hair to the waist. She holds the American flag in her left hand, and places a wreath on the marble bust of Washington with her right while crushing the British crown beneath her foot. The pedestal on which Washington's bust is placed bears the inscription "First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen." The American eagle soars overhead to the left; the liberty pole and cap grow out of the tree of liberty in the background to the right. A second instance is the Columibiapainted in oil about 1810 by an unknown artist and now in the Garbisch Collection of the National Gallery.41 Here a large bosomed Columbia with dark hair to her waist, in a long white gown, dark bodice, and high-laced sandals holds the American flag with seventeen stars in one hand and with the other a chalice from which drinks a spirited American eagle in full flight. A third example of vernacular treatment is an unsophisticated needlework version in the Eleanor and Mabel Van Alstyne Folk Art Collection at the Smithsonian. Made of purl, spangles, and watercolor on silk, it shows Columbia in a long gown and slippers, bareheaded, holding in her right hand the American flag, and in her left a cornucopia from which pours out onto the ground a rich harvest of fruit. In the background is what looks like a small village set on a hill with tightly-packed houses rising up to a little church on the skyline. Around the oval composition is a floral border.42 Three prints published in London during these years indicate how readily the figure of the bareheaded Columbia could be placed in a setting 8Jefferson to William Short, Apr. 30, 1790, as cited in LOUBAT I, xxix. " LOUBATII, Pls. LI, XLVII. 40CHARLES HENRY HART, Catalogue of the Engraved Portraits of Washington (New York: Grolier Club, 1904), No. 221. " Catalogue No. 01431. American Primitive Paintings From the Collection of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch (Washington, D. C.: National Gallery of Art, 1954), Part I, 35. 42Eleanor and Mabel Van Alstyne Collection, Catalogue No. 65.825 (Smithsonian Institution).




Fig. 25 Thomas Wyon, Immune Columbia.

Fig. 24 Columbiaand Washington.Connecticut(?), 1800-1810. Oil on canvas; H. 67", W. 37'4" (New York State HistoricalAssociation).

Birmingham,England,1785. PatternCoin,gold; Diam.26 mm. (SmithsonianInstitution, Divisionof Numismatics).

usually occupied by the Plumed Goddess. The colored mezzotint An Emblem of America published in 1798 by John Fairburn depicts Columbia holding an American flag with the spread eagle. To her right are two little Negro-Indians armed with tomahawk and bow; to her left is a marble column bearing vignettes of Columbus, "VespucciAmericanus," Raleigh, Franklin, Washington, and Adams.43 In an America published by T. Hinton in 1808, appear Columbia, the American flag, a pyramid with portrait busts of Washington, Franklin, and Hancock, the Negro-Indian Boy, and the American cargo ship.44 In the engraving America published by P. Concenit in 1801, Columbia holds the liberty pole and cap, the American flag with the spread eagle, and an olive branch.45 A second interpretation of Columbia, and one of the earliest, shows her with a laurel wreath around her head. This figure appears on a pattern coin prepared in England by Thomas Wyon of Birmingham in 1785 in the belief that the new nation might become a customer for a contract coinage. The pattern was struck in gold, silver, and copper. It is the obverse, bearing the inscription Immune Columbia (Fig. 25), that presents America as Columbia, a figure dressed in a flowing gown, a laurel wreath on her head, barefooted, seated on a globe facing right, her right hand holding a large, furled American flag topped by the liberty cap, and her outstretched left hand holding the scales of justice. There were thus combined in the one figure elements of Liberty, Victory, and Justice. The same figure appears on coins bearing the legend Immunis Columbia dated 1786 and 1787, but none of the coins was used. Collection, No. 828. McAlpin Collection, No. 830. Winterthur Catalogue No. 60.293.

43 McAlpin






Fig. 26 The CopenhagenMonster Muzzled. New York, 1809.

Engraving;Plate: H. 6/4", W. 93/8" (New-YorkHistoricalSociety).

In the same year appeared one of the earliest examples of a third interpretation-the helmeted Columbia, surely one of the handsomest of them all. It is the lower half of the pattern on a printed toile known as The Apotheosis of Washington and Franklin and presents the apotheosis of Franklin (Fig. 7). The central figure is a magnificent, helmeted Columbia holding in her left hand an oval shield emblazoned with thirteen enormous stars and with her right hand leading Franklin to the Temple of Fame. Franklin, wearing his doctor's robe and the fur cap which Nini made famous, holds a banner on which is inscribed: "Where Liberty dwells there is my country." He looks toward a map of the United States held by two cherubs. Behind him is the Goddess of Liberty with her liberty pole and cap. Another example of the helmeted Columbia is on a copperplate engravmade by an anonymous cartoonist and published in December of 1809. ing A dramatic composition, entitled The Copenhagen Monster Muzzled (Fig. 26), it refers to a small crisis caused by the unwarranted seizure of American merchantmen by Denmark in 1809 that was settled by diplomacy. The "Copenhagen Monster" is portrayed as a huge, scaly dragon. Columbia, wearing a helmet and holding the American flag, has apparently placed a chain around its snout and now declares: "Thus far may thou go, beyond that is inadmissable." A fierce American eagle stands by her side, clutching a bundle of spears in its claws.46This is one of the few times during these years that Columbia is shown in militant action and expressing a strong emotion other than gratitude or grief. A colored engraving by Samuel Harris published in Boston by John Coles, Sr., in 1804 (Fig. 27) gives us a fourth interpretation of Columbia. Entitled Emblem of the United States of America, it shows Columbia as a 46See WILLIAMMURRELL, A History of American Graphic Humor (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1933), I, 70.




Fig. 27 Boston, 1804. Colored engraving; Plate: H. 15'4", WV.

11 2

(Winterthur 58.1).

seated female figure dressed in a flowing robe, with a tiara on her head. She holds a laurel branch and the American flag, and supports a shield emblazoned with the American eagle. In the background, on the horizon, are ships of commerce; in the foreground, a trophy of the arts. The border consists of the popular motif of the linked chain of the American states, here numbering fifteen. A legend states: "Peace with all nations, partiality to none." It is a mature, well-designed Columbia expressing strength, dignity, serenity, and self-assurance. Causici's "Liberty" (Fig. 21), executed thirteen years later, is a very similar interpretation. Columbia, wearing an actual crown, appears in a political print engraved and published by William Charles in Philadelphia in 1815 during peace negotiations between England and the United States. Entitled Bruin Become Mediator or Negociation For Peace, it depicts the Russian bear trying to bring together a repentant John Bull and a suspicious Columbia holding the American flag and the liberty pole and cap.47 Of the four major personifications of the United States represented in the visual arts during these years-the Indian Princess, the Plumed Greek Goddess, the American Liberty, and Columbia-two proved to be of diminishing and two of increasing importance. The Plumed Goddess turned out to be a neoclassic fancy with extremely limited usefulness for interpreting "the Genius" of the country. The Indian Princess (largely indistinguishable 47 Political

Cartoon File, Print Collection, Library Company of Philadelphia.




from the Indian Queen) remained a popular folk figure throughout the nineteenth century, but became less and less identified with the spirit of the United States. On the other hand, as though in response to an impulse to retain and develop the one symbol specifically created to represent the new nation, Columbia grew in popularity and use. Apart from liberty, however, Columbia did not convey any one dominant moral quality, though she was associated variously with peace, justice, plenty, wisdom, the arts, and the sciences. As conviction grew in the young Republic that its single most passionately held ideal was liberty, it was inevitable that increasing use should be made of the American Liberty, and that the American Liberty and Columbia should become interchangeable. The feeling for the affinity of these two symbols at the level of formal and ceremonial expression utilizing feminine figures is one of the visible trends of the years from 1815 to 1860. An equally impressive trend is the resort in the vernacular arts to the masculine figures of Brother Jonathan and Uncle Sam to supply a missing flexibility, vitality, and robustness to the American image. During the years 1765 to 1783, the single figure of the Indian Princess, reaching for the liberty pole and cap, sufficed to embody the Genius of America. Between 1783 and 1815 a need was felt for three or four other feminine figures, including the Plumed Greek Goddess and Minerva, to embody variant projections to the new nation. After 1815, only two of these, the American Liberty and Columbia-now often indistinguishableretained their original and primary roles. Now, however, these feminine forms had to be supplemented by complementary masculine forms. The of changing iconography of the American image reflected changing aspects ethos. the American




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