The Foundation of American Government by Henry Hintermeister

Created circa 1925 in Newark, New Jersey. Library of Congress: LC-USZC4-2541. Click on a delegate to display his biography.


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Henry Hintermeister was born in New York in 1897, and died there in 1972. He is known for his paintings of animals. See “Two Setters on Point,” and “Mallard Marsh.”

Two Setters on Point

“Two Setters on Point”

The title of this 1925 on the Constitutional Convention painting is variously referred to as “The Foundation of American Government,” or “George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and others Signing the Constitution.”

Mallard Marsh

“Mallard Marsh”

Heintermeister’s Signing is the third portrait of the Constitutional Convention and the first in the twentieth century. He has eleven delegates in a “signing disposition.” The others are out of the picture. The Rising Sun chair is clearly visible where it had to be implied from the Stearns and Rossiter renditions. There is no argument or disagreement going on in this picture. There is a consensus signing taking place. And several of the delegates other than Washington and Franklin can be identified. Our hunch is that Hintermeister went to the Portrait Gallery! There is no doubt that it is Madison who is directly in front of Washington and that Franklin is standing nearby inviting others to go up and sign the Constitution. To Washington‘s right, Roger Sherman and James Wilson are in line to sign. There is a sense then in which Hintermeister has democratized the Signing by portraying it as the work of recognizable founders and not simply a commemoration of Washington.

Contents

Introduction

The year was 1787. The place: the State House in Philadelphia. This is the story of the framing of the federal Constitution.

The Convention

Read the four-act drama and day-by-day summary by Gordon Lloyd, as well as Madison’s Notes on the Convention.

Interactive Map of Historic Philadelphia in the Late 18th Century

Learn about historic Philadelphia and where the founders stayed, ate, and met.

View Interactive

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