Related page: Acknowledgements
The year 1876, the centennial of American independence, inspired a renewed interest in the nation's colonial past, particularly in the period of the struggle for independence. Much of that history had unfolded in the Old Dominion. Thus the term "Old Virginia" was reinvented to signify primarily the region's colonial history, which appealed to northerners as well as southerners. Attention was thus deflected from the recent Civil War, bringing a form of closure to that catastrophic era.
Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, a Colonial Revivalist in Philadelphia, celebrated the achievements of George Washington in more than a dozen canvases. Here we see the general enjoying a dance that the artist imagined would have followed the victory at Yorktown. (In fact, Washington had returned quickly to Mount Vernon with the widow of his stepson Jacky, who had died from "camp fever.") By 1932, the bicentennial of Washington's birth, adulation peaked for both the general and the Old Virginia society that had produced him, which was in the process of being reborn in the reconstructed town of Colonial Williamsburg.
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