American Studies Home Site Map Gallery of Prints Writing Across the Curriculum Currier & Ives Introduction Currier & Ives Opening

Historical Scenes

The Centennial of 1876 created a surge of patriotism that helped counter the swiftly changing culture of America. An "aggressive pride drove the nation's successful experiment in republican government and the rising power of the common people." (30)
William Penn talking with the Indians.
"Willam Penn's Treaty with the Indians When He Founded the Province of Pennsylvania in 1661. The Only Treaty Never Broken."
"Washington on horseback greeting the troops.
"Washington Taking Command of the American Army at Cambridge, Mass., July 3, 1776."

Unlike European countries that had centuries to draw on as a source of tradition and memory, the United States was without an ancestral past. Currier and Ives helped foster a public memory by producing "more than 250 prints depicting high points in American history." (31)

In doing so, they helped reassure Americans that they could look back on a virtuous past with pride. It is this recreated past with its nostalgia for the great men of yore that became the foundation for American history lessons taught to immigrants. That the prints may not have resembled anything from real life was irrelevant. Notice that the troops in the print to the left all look like Washington and are dressed like him as well.

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American Studies Home Site Map Gallery of Prints Writing Across the Curriculum Currier & Ives Introduction Currier & Ives Opening

Site created by Marcy McDonald, American Studies, UVA. Last modified: July 30, 2005. E-mail: asgrp@virginia.edu

ENDNOTES | SOURCES

University of Virginia, www.virginia.edu