Washington Shocks the Nation

By: Ritvik Annam, Andrew Yu, and Olin Zhou

Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze - 1851

Big image

Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze

Leutze was a German born US immigrant. In the year of 1816, he was born. He moved as a young child to the United States. However, in 1841 he ventured back to Germany to study in the Academy in Dusseldorf.

Emaneul Leutze stayed in Germany for the next twenty years. He, while residing in Germany, continued to just paint historical american paintings. Washington Crossing the Delaware is by far his best known work, as it has become a symbol of national pride.

After returning to the United States in 1859, the United States Congress commissioned Leutze to decorate the stairway in the US Capitol building, He again depicted an American event - the settlement of the far west - in his painting.

Authored by Ritvik Annam

Art Critique


George Washington Crossing the Delaware shows strong patriotic, hope, light at the end of a dark tunnel. The overall tone of the piece looks warm. The American flag shows the nature of the painting to be highly nationalistic as it towers over the soldiers on board. The details depicted in the painting contribute to an overall tone of patriotism.


The ship is a mixture of warm colors, representing a sense of hope and virtue. In contrast, the water is ice cold, representing the parol that Washington is sailing into. The sky has a gradient of dark gray but shifts to a light tone representing an emergence from the worst times and an era of new hope. The color depicts the possible perils prevailing people paralleling the poignant part in the posterior of the painting.


The piece is of the Romantic style. In the Romantic style, the piece conveys extreme patriotism and nationalism. In addition, the depiction of the event is slightly dramatized, seen in George’s heroic pose as they cross a river of hope; the real event was described to have taken place at dusk instead of dawn, and the sailors were all miserable. The brush strokes are thicker than that of the realistic style, and are painted with a specific gesture so that the strokes have direction. There is also contrapposto seen in the blending of color and light.


The lines are not distinct. Instead, each line is blended with lighting and shadow. The blend of lines creates movement within the piece by giving the piece adrenaline and making the piece come to life.


The warm coloring brilliantly reflects off of the white background and creates movement all around the artwork. In addition, the iceberg chunks are continuously appearing within the piece, showing repetition. This repetition creates movement for the eye, allowing it to circulate around the whole piece.

Authored by Andrew Yu

Story Truth

Christmas Night, December 25th, 1776. Washington and his troops huddle together around a campfire, struggling to survive in the makeshift camp in Delaware. The blistering cold of the winter took a toll on the American morale, and many troops bailed out on the Revolution, claiming it to be offspring of an insane dream. Although starving, Washington rallied the rest of his troops back to his feet.

With a booming voice, glimmering with the tone of Liberty, Washington shouted to his troops, “Today we suffer. Tomorrow we rejoice in freedom. Together, we must attack the troops over the river of Delaware at New Jersey. With this victory we can feed ourselves and feed the pride of our people. Join me as we liberate America!”

One by one, the troops began to stand up. The soldiers, once clean boys with rosy cheeks and a bright composure, now took the appearance of a war torn man with their greasy hair, sollen expression, and aged clothing. They grabbed each others grubby hands and hopped into a large boat.

The men yelled, “To victory!” and navigated the icy river of Delaware. Many died during the trip; many more caught hypothermia. The complexity of the situation, however, only further empowered the men aboard Washington’s ship.

On the morning of December 26th, 1776, Washington and his men landed in New Jersey. It was hell for the Hussains. The Hussains, surprised by the attack, had little time to react. At the price of 4 lives, Washington had captured the post and taken up thousands of troops.

Authored by Andrew Yu

Happening Truth

Washington needed to devise a plan to attack Hessian troops found in Trenton, New Jersey. He led 2400 men and crossed the Delaware river and reached the New Jersey side of the Delaware. A total of three divisions were sent but only one reached.

Upon crossing the Delaware the cold icy waters proved disastrous. This was the third time attempting to reclaim the land. The first two had failed creating longer return trips. Combined with the lack of 2/3 of the divisions, the task ahead of Washington seems to be perilous and momentous.

In the morning of December 26th 1776, Washington, with his remaining men, attacked trenton's 1400 hessian defenders. In miraculous fashion a thousand Hessians were captured at the cost of only 4 American lives. But due to the lack of artillery from the other two divisions, Washington was forced to withdraw from the town.

Authored by Olin Zhou

War Story

Washington began to cross. His boat barely surging through the cold icy water, shuttled along. It would skip over ice chunks jumping from one water pond to another. He continued to stand, even though it wasn’t the best idea.

He was a leader - he never back down. The ride consisted of frequent pep talks, talks of liberty and the purpose and goal. There was nothing more he wanted.

Our flag billowing and bending in the wind. Scrunched up it was nothing more than just a spear, demonstrating our possible ability, a way to hopefully stab the enemy.

I’m not sure what was going on, I just rowed. But what I did know is that the impending attack wouldn’t be great. It was a gigantic army. We were just a few boatload of men. I wasn’t sure how Washington thought we would proceed. It didn’t add up. Nothing added up. We broke god’s laws sailing through the air, we upheld god’s will by trying to soar to our successes. I still looked ahead, struggling to push the pieces of ice.

I could see a monster raising it's arms, dragging our boat in. We stopped flying. The monster surged into the air. Most paintings don't show this - the symbol of patriotism would vanish if people knew. Washington stood up, and pleaded. "Don't kill my men" he yelled. Yet the monster of darkness refused to back down. It took until God's booming sound from behind us to suppress the the big shaggy monster in front of us.

To this day, I have no idea how we pulled that off, or why with that much success we left. The war still continues. The river is still haunted.

Authored by Ritvik Annam