Friday, May 25, 2012


A review of David McCullough’s 1776: The Illustrated Edition (2007)

 (Rating 5 of 5)

Seeing that I have already reviewed 1776 as a book, I will just make a few passing comments on some of the illustration that graces this edition. This book is full of primary source material. Inside are paintings, copies of letters and publications, and even a photograph.

The paintings are truly remarkable. There was prime talent in the late eighteenth century. Some of the paintings are from the British master Alan Ramsay; including a few of his most famous works such as The Coronation of George III. A great deal of the work of the famous revolutionary painter, John Trumbull, is in here including The Signing of the Declaration,The Crossing of the Delaware, and The Surrender of the Hessians. I, personally, like Trumbull’s work the best.

       (John Trumbull)

        (Alan Ramsay)

 In the book are copies of originals letters, Washington’s commission, maps, and copies of the original publication of George III's pronouncement of rebellion and the Declaration of Independence. People in the eighteenth century spelled differently than we do today with letters ‘s’ and ‘f’ being interchangeable. The different spelling makes the material very difficult to read.

On another note, every year on July 4 our local paper (the Portland Press Herald) decides to publish the Declaration and writes ‘united States of America’ not capitalizing the 'u' because that is what Jefferson had in his original draft. However official published version that was issued by the Continental Congress had an all capitalized ‘UNITED STATES OF AMERICA’ in the document. Jefferson, it should be pointed out, did not capitalize the first letter in his sentences. So we should not overly look into what Jefferson did and did not capitalize.

My favorite thing in this book is a photograph from 1858 of a 102-year-old veteran of the Revolutionary War. Ralph Farnham enlisted at 18 in 1775 and was still around to take a picture in 1858.

(Ralph Farnham, one of the last Revolutionary War veterans alive in 1858.)

I would recommend any U.S. history teacher to get this book for his or her class.


  1. interesting that Jefferson did not capitalize first letter in a sentence! do you know why?

  2. Because George Wythe who was his law mentor didn’t. Now why Wythe did not I have no idea. Although that information isn’t in this book its in one of the biographies I have read on Thomas Jefferson.


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