In 1781, France invaded the Channel Island of Jersey. It was successfully defended by the British - an important victory at a time when they were failing in their war with America (American War of Independence) and about to lose control of their American colonies. This painting celebrates the victory and commemorates the death of Major Francis Peirson and his refusal to surrender.
In the 1700s Britain controlled and governed extensive areas in the Americas and the Caribbean within its empire. In 1776, thirteen of the colonies in North America came together to reject British rule and the sovereignty of King George III over them, and to declare themselves independent states. This was formalised in the Declaration of Independence, the first step towards establishing a new nation - the United States of America. This handwritten version is thought to be one of the very first to reach Britain.
This portrait shows the flamboyant and controversial figure Sir Banestre Tarleton, a cavalry officer best known as commander of the ‘Tarleton Raiders’ during the American war of independence. It was painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds, the leading British portrait painter of the 18th century. Reynolds was a founding member of the Royal Academy and its first President, and was knighted by King George III.
Quilting has a long history in North America, dating back to the early colonial settlers of the 1600s and bringing together different ethnic and cultural traditions. As well as their practical use for warmth, they were made – often communally - to mark important family occasions such as weddings and births. As quilt-making developed from a practical necessity into skilled folk artistry, different patterns and symbols emerged carrying different meanings. This classic ‘orange peel’ design is said to have been influenced by Lafayette.
Martha Washington was the first ‘First Lady’ of the USA. Although the term ‘First Lady’ was not introduced until much later, Martha Washington was known as ‘Lady Washington’, in recognition of her status as the wife of the USA’s first President, George Washington.
Thomas Paine was one of the most influential writers and activists of his time who heavily influenced the American and French revolutions.
Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790) was an American printer, inventor and scientist, who went on to become a Founding Father of the United States of America.
How the American colonies defied Britain, one of the mightiest powers on earth, to secure their independence and form a new federal republic – the United States of America.