Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Wordless: The Athenaeum

This painting of George Washington is by Gilbert Stuart and is also known as The Athenaeum.
Yes, people realize it is unfinished.

The Athenaeum is the image of Washington we see on the dollar bill. Stuart and his daughters completed over 130 reproductions but the original, seen here, was never completed. The painting hangs in Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.

Don’t get this painting confused with Stuart’s other famous George Washington painting……
the Lansdowne portrait…the one Dolly Madison saved during the War of 1812.

Other bloggers are participating in Wordless Wednesday. You can find them here .

Monday, January 25, 2010

African Americans

Unlike immigrants from other lands, ancestors of most African-Americans came to America by force rather than by choice. One million arrived aboard slave ships between 1619 and 1808. As slaves, they were property that could be bought and sold. Often, families were divided up. Most slaves were forced to work hard and live in poor conditions, and many were badly abused.

The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution freed all slaves when the North won the Civil War. But this freedom did not bring equality. Soon, many states enacted “black codes,” laws that kept African-Americans segregrated from “whites” for another 100 years. “Blacks” had to attend separate schools, drink from separate fountains, stay in separate hotels, and ride in the back of the bus.

Yet with courage and persistence, African-Americans have gradually gained legal rights to equal opportunity. Meanwhile, they have also made rich contributions to American culture most visibly in music, politics, and sports. Although prejudice still exists, African Americans have won recognition for excellence in every field.

Today, African-Americans make up 12 percent of today’s U.S. population.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wordless: Boy Rescued From a Shark

This painting is titled A Youth Rescued From a Shark by John Singleton Copley(1778). It currently hangs in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

The painting depicts the rescue of Brook Watson, a British merchant, soldier, and one-time Lord Mayor of London. At the age of 14 Watson was rescued from the shark attack as he was swimming the harbor at Havana, Cuba. He lost his leg from the knee down in the attack, and commissioned the painting to serve as a warning as well as the message that even the severest adversity can be overcome.

Other bloggers are participating in Wordless Wednesday. You can find them here

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Navajo

More than 500 years ago, a group of people migrated southward from Canada and Alaska to the present-day American Southwest. These newcomers, the Navajo, soon became the dominant tribe in the region.

Today, they are the largest Native American tribe in the United States.
When Spaniards and Mexicans arrived in the area in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Navajo fought to remain free. But the intruders changed the Navajo way of life. Sheep, introduced by the Spanish, became an important source of food, their wool was used in the weaving of colorful blankets and rugs. Horses allowed the Navajo to travel long distances. And Mexican silversmiths taught them how to make beautiful turquoise and silver jewelry.

When the U.S. acquired the region in 1848, the struggle over Navajo lands grew intense. Years of warfare and forced resettlement resulted in the death of thousands. Finally, in 1868, the government signed a peace treaty with the Navajo that returned a portion of their homeland.

Over the years, the tribe began to benefit from oil, gas, and coal that were found on its land.

Today, 150,00 Navajo live on a reservation that covers 25,000 square miles. The reservation is three times the size of Massachusetts! They maintain a strong sense of tribal identify while continuing to play an important role in the live of America’s Southwest.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wordless: Lander's Peak

This painting is Landers Peak in the Rocky Mountains by Albert Bierstadt, a German-American painter. Bierstadt is known for large landscapes of the American West. In order to fuel his inspiration Bierstadt often traveled with westward expansion expeditions.

Bierstadt’s works are considered to be part of the Hudson River School---a group of painters that used Romantic details and almost glowing light (luminism).

You can see Bierstadt’s complete works here

Find other wordless images published by other bloggers here.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Adlai Stevenson

“I’m too old to cry, and it hurts too much to laugh,” Adlai Stevenson said when he lost the 1952 presidential election to Dwight D. Eisenhower. He was quoting Abraham Lincoln, but the comment was classic Stevenson – witty and painfully honest. Stevenson’s loyal supporters admired the liberal, intellectual approach to issues, but most voters preferred Eisenhower’s hero status, conservative politics, and folksy style.

Stevenson began his career as special counsel to the U.S. Navy Secretary during World War II. Later, he helped plan the first United Nations conference. And in 1948, he was elected governor of Illinois, soon getting national attention for reforms and modernizing highways, reorganized the state police, and doubled aid for education. Stevenson’s grandfather, also named Adlai, was Grover Cleveland’s Vice President. He was first to head the Democratic ticket in the 1952 election even though he had refused to campaign for the nomination.

Stevenson said that he would rather lose an election than “mislead the people by representing as simple what is infinitely complex.” That statement of principle turned out to be prophetic. He lost to Eisenhower in 1952 and again in 1956. From 1961 until his death in 1965, he served as U.S. ambassador to the U.N.