The Declaration of Independence

Sharon Son, Daniel Yong, Adam Nguyen, and Kelly Luo

Story Truth (Sharon Son)

By examining John Trumbull’s artwork, the viewer is able to sense the different emotions being formed through the different perspectives of the people painted.

The light plays a major role in emphasizing the congregation of the 42 people out of 56 who signed the Declaration. Playing with the direction of the light towards the 42 people allows for John Hancock to oversee the representatives, as they are reacting to the decisions being made by John Hancock. John Hancock, the man known for having the largest signature in the Declaration of Independence, sits at the very front of the room with a somewhat nonchalant expression, and Thomas Jefferson stands before John Hancock in a tall and collected expression. His facial expression marks the importance of the signing of the Declaration emphasized by his brows, closed mouth, and hands brought up to Hancock in an upfront manner. In the persona of John Hancock, his role in the signing of the draft marks a lesser importance than that of the other delegates due to the fact that he is not depicted facing towards whoever may be analyzing this painting. Contrary to John Hancock’s point of view, the light and usage of chiaroscuro lets the viewer of the painting perceive the congregation of 42 people with greater value than how the viewer may perceive John Hancock. The emphasis of light onto the group of representatives may be John Trumbull’s intent in order to let the viewer know that such great amount of people contributing to the drafting of the Declaration showed their longing and determination for a change in equality between the British king and colonists.

Happening Truth (Daniel yong)

On July 4, 1776, fifty-six delegates in the city of Philadelphia signed the Declaration of Independence that made it clear that they no longer wanted to be part of the British Empire. Created by John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston, the other members of the Second Continental Congress from the different colonies signed this document, finalizing their decision to separate from Great Britain. Participating and signing this document was a very important decision, because in doing so, it means that if the thirteen colonies lost this war, every participant of this document would be executed for treason against the king. However, these men had faith in their fight against the oppressive Great Britain, and were willing to sacrifice their lives for their freedom. Additionally, many of these delegates were not present, as they either did not want to associate themselves with such a rebellious act against King George the III, or they were not present for this meeting, but the painting displays every delegate as present.

Critique of the Painting (kelly luo)

The purpose of this painting is to portray the message of the road to independence. This piece of artwork was painted years after America declared war, so John wanted to preserve the image of the nation’s founders and not the 100% accurate truth. This piece was the first completed painting of four revolutionary era scenes commissioned by Congress for Trumbull and he makes it clear that America is powerful with the captured British flags hanging in the back. Heavy chiaroscuro shading in the corners of the painting show a contrast between light and dark and gives the painting more focus towards the main idea, the founding fathers. There is a light source coming from above that seems to be shining down on these men, showing their authority. The piece focuses on the founding fathers: Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston presenting the declaration to John Hancock, the Congress President.

Identity of the Author: John Trumbull (Adam Nguyen)

John Trumbull was an American painter born in the Colony of Connecticut on June 6, 1756 to Jonathan Trumbull the Governor of Connecticut and his wife Faith Trumbull, and both sides of his family were descended from Puritans. Trumbull is known for his historical paintings made during the American Revolutionary War, with his most famous piece being the Declaration of Independence, and throughout his life, Trumbull created about 250 paintings. As a child, Trumbull experienced an accident which caused him to lose use of one of his eyes, which is believed to have influenced his detailed painting style. During the Revolutionary War, Trumbull was a soldier for the American, and after the Battle of Bunker Hill, he was appointed as the second personal aide to General George Washington. He later resigned from the army in 1777. In 1780, Trumbull traveled to London and studied under American painter Benjamin West. Under West, Trumbull painted many pictures of the Revolutionary War and miniature portraits. After being released from a British jail, Trumbull traveled to Paris, and with the help of Thomas Jefferson, Trumbull painted Declaration of Independence.

War Story based on O'Brien's Excerpt

Everybody knows that the colonist longed for change; however, the colonists’ rage just erupted right before the war had occurred. Even with the establishment of the Declaration of Independence, the colonists felt as though the King did not take into account of the document we signed. During the signing, each and every one of the representatives of the colonies held a firm belief in what they were signing and that they must find a solution for war if the grievances were not taken into regards by the King. War was the only option but in war, there is no moral or no thought process that goes through with it. There is no good meaning behind the initial start of the war unless you dig up a deeper meaning.

When declaration for war was made, the colonists didn’t anticipate long sleepless nights and never ending tiredness. However, at this point they did not expect anything more than the permanent liberty of their colony. A typical war story is true in that it is difficult to decipher between what happened from what seemed to happen. People tend to not focus on the details of every single Patriot ending their lives on the war field, but they tend to understand the generalized idea that British America did, indeed, achieve its desire from freeing away from the mother country. In this war story, we do not draw attention to the details of the fires shot, but the unique memory and legacy that brought us to America’s independence.