Our Founding Artists

This Fourth of July, I got to thinking about the Founders of this country and their respective arts, and why so few people know that many of them considered their artistic pursuits to be passions, just as many of us do today.

Many of the male Founders were well-trained tradesmen, farmers, or scientists. Some were more highly educated than others, and/or more financially or socially privileged. Most of the women spent countless hours running the households and often the farms or estates. As much as skilled work was valued around the time of the American Revolution, there was also a belief that the arts created a well-rounded person. Given how inventive, creative, and in some ways ahead of their time so many of the Founders were, it kinda makes you wonder how much of that can be attributed to the time they spent immersed in their favorite arts.

We know that many of the Founders were talented writers (and some were authors) but here’s just a partial list of the other arts at which the Founders excelled:

Martha Washington: quilting, needlework

George Washington: dancing

Thomas Jefferson: avid violinist

Benjamin Franklin: violin, harp, guitar, composer, invented better version of glass harmonica

Charles Willson Peale: painter

Eliza Hamilton: singing, piano, and possibly harp

Paul Revere: silversmith

Phillis Wheatley, poetry

And that’s just to name a few.

Here’s to the arts and their unsung places in history. And here’s to all the early Americans whose artistic expression may never be known due to the unjust laws and bigotry that held them down. And here’s a call to today’s artists to use your creative energy to fight to make this the best country for all. Only then will we achieve true Independence.

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