Clinton Presidential Library Hosts Historical Figures Exhibit

A selection of George Stuart’s American Historical Figures, as well as two original engravings of the Constitution are now showcased in the six-month exhibit “Revolution and Rebellion: Wars, Words and Figures” at the prestigious William J. Clinton Presidential Center Library in Little Rock, AR. In all, the display features thirty-five Figures from the Revolutionary and Civil War collections.

Northwest view of the Clinton Presidential Cen...Image via WikipediaA Message from the Exhibition Host

“The Clinton Library is very pleased to host some of the Historical Figures of George Stuart that represent important characters of the American Revolution, the American Civil War and several of their European counterparts. The Clinton Library is one of 13 Presidential Libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. Learn more visit the Clinton Library.”

This blog features the exhibited Figures of the Revolutionary War period. A future blog will feature exhibited Figures from the Civil War Era.

King George III was a dedicated, hardworking monarch. He took his role seriously, but was plagued by his wrong-headed policies. He was never a monster or a villain. Charlotte his queen birthed 16 children, among them the future George IV. It was from the armies of her family in Hesse, Germany that George obtained the mercenaries to support his very unpopular war in the colonies. In later years, he may have suffered from bouts of porphyria, a disease that earned him the epithet “Mad King George.”

Early political connections between colonies began with Sam Adams' Committees of Correspondence. Their correspondence fired agitation throughout most of the colonies, which led to forming a Continental Congress in 1774 for the purpose of confronting royal policies. The clash was carried forward by such radicals as Patrick Henry (R) in the Virginia colony and the movement was given focus by Thomas Paine (L) with his pamphlet Common Sense, containing its message of 'independence not reconciliation.'

George Washington gained support from several prominent foreigners in his desperate resistance to the Royal armies. The most colorful was the Marquis de Lafayette, whose main contribution was his work to obtain recognition of the young United States by the King of France in 1778. Washington and Lafayette became like father and son. Washington was also blessed with having a loving wife in Martha. Her patient support would go far in comforting him throughout the eight miserable years of the conflict.

Washington considered Benedict Arnold the ablest of his field generals. Arnold's historic defection was caused by his perception that Washington failed to support Arnold in battling corruption charges. His young society bride, Peggy Shippen had British Army ties and encouraged the defection.

Franklin’s endeavors to form a more perfect government made him the choice for the Republic’s first president, but for his great age and ill health. Like Franklin, Thomas Jefferson's constant public service and concepts of democracy, including his insistence on a Bill of Rights, was ahead of revolutionary contemporaries.

Adams was one of the most distinguished families in early United States history. Both John (R) and son served as presidents, but their early lives were spent in constant public service. Massachusetts has provided a vast number of outstanding citizens over the centuries, but few could eclipse the contribution of the Adams'. Mrs. Adams was not only a remarkably independent businesswoman, she also promoted women's rights. John Quincy Adams (L) gave most of his energy and political capital to anti-slavery efforts, two generations before the Civil War.

President Washington ended his second term as president by admonishing Americans not to let commerce and the military gain an undue influence in government. Then he and Martha dashed for Mount Vernon. They were so grateful to be 'home' at last! Love of his farm and his dreams of western settlement engrossed him to the end.

Dolley Paine Todd, a young widow with a son married James Madison, a middle aged bachelor. She was big and bucksome; he, short and thin. Dolley's talents as hostess were honed entertaining for President Jefferson and later as First Lady to her husband. During the War of 1812 her presence of mind saved some of the nation's most valuable treasures.

Jefferson is credited with seizing the opportunity to acquire the Louisiana territory. However, many maneuvers and much statecraft came into play before the deed was done. America's vital need for open access to the Mississippi River, which was controlled by Franco-Spanish governments, needed resolution. By good fortune, Napoleon wanted to unload the area, hoping the British would try to take it from the Americans. James Monroe loved the French and facilitated the purchase, whereby the nation was doubled in size for only $15 million, about 35 cents per acre!

Coming soon: The Civil War Figures
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