How does this portrait of George Washington compare to other images you may have seen of the President? What is the effect of depicting Washington in this way?
Which aspects of this image look posed, arranged, or natural?
What details can you see in the background? How do they add to the story being told about President Washington?
Charles Willson Peale portrayed George Washington as a relaxed, yet powerful military leader wearing the blue sash of commander-in-chief of the Continental Army. For many Americans, Washington symbolizes the early history of the United States. However, North America had a long history prior to colonization. Indigenous peoples were here centuries before President Washington took office.
“America” is the product of a complex history of multicultural exchange, reflecting many perspectives, stories, and experiences, which cannot be embodied in a single painting or perspective.
George Washington took an oath of office during the first inauguration on April 30, 1789, stating that he would "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States." Why was the oath established as an American tradition for presidents?
What values and ideas about George Washington and the American republic are presented by this portrait?
How has George Washington's presidency and personal legacy been evaluated over time?
Exhibition sponsored by Kenneth C. Griffin
Learning and engagement programming for We the People: The Radical Notion of Democracy is sponsored by:
Sarah and Ross Perot, Jr. Foundation | Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates, & Woodyard, P.L.L.C. | Johnny and Jeanie Morris, Bass Pro Shops | Alturas Foundation | Harriet and Warren Stephens, Stephens Inc. | Sotheby’s | Bob and Becky Alexander | Marybeth and Micky Mayfield | Lamar and Shari Steiger | Jeff and Sarah Teague / Citizens Bank | Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities | Avis and Bill Bailey | Scarlett and Neff Basore | June Carter Family | Terri and Chuck Erwin | Jackye and Curtis Finch | The Harrison and Rhonda French Family | Jim and Susan von Gremp | Laurice Hachem | Shannon and Charles Holley | Valorie and Randy Lawson / Lawco Energy Group | Donna and Mack McLarty | Steve and Susan Nelson | Neal and Gina Pendergraft | Helen Porter | JT and Imelda Rose | Lee and Linda Scott | Stella Boyle Smith Trust, Catherine and Michael Mayton, Trustees | William Reese Company