Kennedy American Pageant 12e -
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The American Pageant: A History of the Republic, Twelfth Edition
David M. Kennedy, Stanford University
Lizabeth Cohen, Harvard University
Thomas A. Bailey
Examining the Evidence Activites
Chapter 9: The Confederation and the Constitution, 1776-1790

Examining Related Evidence: Copley Family Portrait
This internet activity is based on the Examining the Evidence feature found on page 169 of The American Pageant, Twelfth Edition. Or you can view the feature here.

Copley, like most early American painters made his living by painting portraits. Some of his most interesting and revealing works were paintings of the leaders of Revolutionary-era Boston. The one of Paul Revere is particularly noteworthy and discussed in detail by the historian David Hackett Fisher in his Paul Revere's Ride. To investigate further, go to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston's website to examine Copley's painting of Revere.

Examine the painting carefully and answer the following questions:

  1. Consider the context of this painting first. When was this work painted? What was going on in Boston at that time? What role was Revere playing in those events?
  2. What clues about Revere's profession are there in the painting?
  3. Was Revere a common tradesman? What does the evidence tell you? Is it important for you to know that his shirt is made of a fancy linen cloth?
  4. How might Revere's trade have helped him in his political activities?
  5. There are several other paintings by Copley at this website. Which is your favorite, and why?