Saturday, August 25, 2007

Five best: portraits of the era of America's founding

Jay Winik, author of the forthcoming The Great Upheaval: America and the Birth of the Modern World, 1788-1800, selected a five best "portraits of the era of America's founding" list for Opinion Journal.

One title from the list:

The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson by Bernard Bailyn

Before the American Revolution, Thomas Hutchinson was perhaps the most distinguished colonial official of his day. He was the royal governor of Massachusetts and America's most eminent historian. But like a third of the colonists, he remained stubbornly wedded to the British Crown, thus becoming one of the most hated men on the continent. He was variously denounced as "dark, intriguing, and ambitious" and as an "arch-fiend." In 1765, a mob enraged by his support for the Stamp Act stormed into his house and, when he was nowhere to be found, stabbed his portrait with bayonets. Exiled to Britain in 1774, Hutchinson became a broken man, forever longing to be buried in American soil. Bailyn writes the story with uncommon sensitivity and elegance and powerfully reminds us that America's Revolution, stripped of its mythology, was a painful, even tragic, civil war.

Read more about Winik's list.

--Marshal Zeringue