Happy Birthday, John Laurens!
A few days ago, on Monday, October 28, John Laurens turned 256 years old! In honor of that, here's a picture I did a couple years ago that I still like of him drawing.
If you'd like to learn more about him, click here to see his page on Mount Vernon's website (an interesting yet concise description of his life) or click here to see some intriguing thoughts on his sexual orientation.
Happy birthday, John Laurens!
James and Dolley Madison
Here's a picture of Dolley Madison giving her husband James a piggy back ride. No, I am not making this up.
When my sister mentioned to me that James and Dolley did this sort of thing, I had a hard time believing it at first. They had always come off as rather serious to me. Then, my sister sent me a link to a Smithsonian article that talked about their fun sides. They roughhoused, joked, and otherwise had fun in private, although in public she was the lively one and he was more on the reserved side. It seems she was a lot bigger and stronger than him, so sometimes she would lift him onto her back and carry him around. They sound like a cute couple.
I think, if we are to draw a moral from this, it's that we should always remember that appearances can be deceiving. Even a Founding Father with intense expressions in paintings can be playful.
CSS Alabama vs. USS Kearsarge
I recieved a request to do something on American Civil War naval history. Sorry it's a little late! Hope this is what you wanted!
During the Civil War, the Union navy strategically blocked off the Confederacy's access to supplies via waterways. In order to distract them, the Confederate navy Union commercial ships in the oceans. The CSS Alabama, one of these ships, was eventually taken down by the USS Kearsarge, which is the confrontation shown here. Obviously, I made some exaggerations. The ships were each manned by more than one guy pointing at the other ship, for instance.
Click here for a brief description of Confederate Commerce Raiders, or click here for a more detailed description of the CSS Alabama by the Naval History and Heritage Command.
Happy Bi Visibility Week!
This is the end of Bi Visibility Week of 2019. This Monday (September 23, 2019) was the 20th anniversary of Bi Visibility Day, a day when we overcome bi erasure and acknowledge bisexuality in our community and around the world.
In honor of this, here are three awesome historical figures who were bisexual! From left to right: Alexander Hamilton, Josephine Baker, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. These people were each amazing in their own right, and to fully understand their lives, we must acknowledge their sexual orientations.
Click here for more about Hamilton's bisexuality.
Presenting Clara Barton, the Angel of the Battlefield during the American Civil War!
Clarissa Harlowe Barton is a remarkable hero. She served as a field nurse, gathered and transported much-needed supplies (once, she brought bandages to units who had been forced to use corn husks to bind with), and founded the American branch of the Red Cross. She also recorded the personal information of soldiers she treated and started the Bureau of Records of Missing Men of the Armies of the United States to confirm the statuses of missing soldiers and contact their families.
Click here for a concise yet thorough description of her life and accomplishments.
John Laurens at Mepkin
I just got back from a trip to South Carolina, the state John Laurens called home! For those of you who don't know, John Laurens was a Continental soldier during the American Revolutionary War. He served as an aide-de-camp to General Washington and led troops in his home state. Also, Laurens was an abolitionist, writing essays on the subject and campaigning for a batallion which would offer slaves freedom in exchange for service. He doesn't get a lot of attention, but has been getting more since appearing in the Hamilton musical.
On my trip, I got to visit Mepkin, the estate where he was born and raised. It's a gorgeous place. Now it's a monastery, but it's fun to imagine what it would have been like to grow up there. The sketch above is a young Laurens reading in the garden at Mepkin.
Though Laurens's house is no longer there, his grave is, along with that of his parents and several siblings and nieces and nephews. My sister laid flowers on his grave. I highly recommend visiting.
This is the man who created my favorite superhero. He had an incredibly fasinating life, and I would strongly recommend reading The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore to learn more about him and his famous heroine. After reading it, I realized that every story about Wonder Woman's creation that I'd seen/read in the past was an oversimplification. Dr. Marston was a man who was ahead of his time and yet wouldn't have quite fit in our time, either.
Fun fact: He invented the lie detector (hence why he chose to give Diana of Paradise Island a lasso of truth).
Hamilton and Laurens
This one I decided to draw by hand instead of using my laptop. I still feel more of a sense of control with a pencil. Enjoy!
The nature of the relationship between Alexander Hamilton and John Laurens is subject to debate among historians, but I happen to agree with the evidence that points to their relationship being a romantic one. I have drawn Lams drawings such as this one for a long time (they're part of what inspired me to do this blog). This one I drew today for a blog posting by my historian sister, Megan Gackler, in which she discusses Hamilton and Laurens's relationship in detail. You can read her article here.
Eliza Schuyler Hamilton
Presenting Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, the first picture on this blog to be featured in color!
Eliza has gained popularity thanks to the Hamilton musical, which, as you probably know, brought up a lot of the awesome things she did. But did you know she was part of a spy ring? On a visit to the Schuyler mansion last summer, I found out that during the American Revolutionary War (and a little after), Philip Schuyler ran a spy ring with two of his daughters, Eliza and Angelica. They read mail and charmed officers into sharing information. Eliza mainly acted as a courier of intelligence.
Pretty cool, huh?
This is a rendition of Ewen Montagu, a British Naval Intelligence officer during World War II. He was the mastermind behind Operation Mincemeat, a weird but brilliant plan involving dressing up a corpse and filling his pockets with fake intelligence to make the Axis powers think an upcoming Allied invasion was of Greece and not Sicily, the real target. I love the way this guy thought. If you want to learn more, I strongly recommend Ben MacIntyre's book on the subject, Operation Mincemeat. It's a story of elaborate attention to detail and remarkable creativity, and definitely worth checking out.