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tv   Painting of American Loyalist James De Lancey  CSPAN  March 10, 2019 11:12am-11:59am EDT

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forces in the long island in the new york city area. the society of cincinnati recently acquired a rare oil painting of colonel delancey and is furnished uniform. next, on american history tv, the deputy director and curator emily parsons displays the painting and discusses the life and career of colonel delancey. this is about 45 minutes. good afternoon and welcome to of theember talk american revolution institute of the society of the cincinnati at anderson home. the institute promotes knowledge and appreciation of the achievements of american attendance five supporting advanced study, exhibition, and public program, preservation and providing resources to classrooms. atwood, and today it is my privilege to introduce our speaker. emily parsons is the deputy director and curator for the society of the cincinnati of anderson house.
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a position she has held since 2003. she had the museum program including collections, exhibition and interpretation. she has researched 18th-century american history and material culture for more than 15 years and has curated numerous exhibitions for the society in addition to contributing. exhibitionsng to mounted by mount vernon and washington antique show. she holds a ba in history and a masters of history and a significant exam studies from the university of delaware. here's emily. [applause] >> all of you for coming. this is one of the most fun parts of my job is to delve into and explore objects in our collection, portrait in
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particular like this one, a favorite of mine. this one is, as you are seeing, sort of in its unvarnished, new to us state. you will have an opportunity to take a look closely when we are done, it's an oil portrait of colonel james delancey, a native new yorker who commanded troops during the revolutionary war against the cause for american independence. not decide we are used to talking about but a very interesting story that helps illuminate the character of the war in particular in new york. this painting is attributed to john durand, who we will talk about and painted during the war between 7078 in 1782. we acquired the supporters within the last year, it the first painting of a loyalist and our collection which is a landmark for us. we acquired it just as you see it, without a frame, from a dealer who acquired it at an
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auction where it was unidentified. he did a bit of work and i have been able to rely on that to identify it and place it in context. ithave not yet had confirmed, either. we had a little bit more work to do that may reveal some more details as we go forward. talk to you today about jim's the lands he and his activities during the war. course, andt, of put it in context, some other portrait of american wireless from the period. so, who was james the lancey? he was from an important family in colonial new york. one of the wealthiest in the american colonies that had been established in new york in the 16 80's. his grandfather stephen delancey settled in new york about that time and by marriage, joined his , incredibly important names in new york.
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in 1700, he began construction atthe house in new york city 54 pearl street. boughtis death, it was by samuel francis who opened a tavern which later, toward washington would use to say his farewells at the end of the revolutionary war to his officers. james -- james's father was a member of the colonial assembly as numerous other family members were. oliver commended the militia during the french and indian war with a number of the council between the french and indian war and revolution and during the revolution was a brigadier general in command of what was known as the lancey's brigade of almost 2000 men. so, as you might gather, this is an incredibly powerful political family in colonial new york that
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led what was even referred to as the delancey party which dominated politics around the french and indian war of to the revolution. they were supporters of mercantile interest, especially given their own backgrounds. and their opponents in new york were the livingston family and faction, which was comprised of aristocrats. sites incey-livingston politics were really more based on social and provisional factors rather than disagreements on ideology as the sides really shifted as they needed or felt like on the various issues. vigilante families seems to become loyalist once the revolution approach. not because of their close ties to the world governors and other
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officials in the colony rather than because of a particular ideology. our sitter,ack to held the position of sheriff which she had been appointed to in 1770 and was a rather lucrative position. he had a salary of 120 pounds per year at that level. he became a kernel of the westchester county militia. county, if you is here,n this map, outlined in red, just north of manhattan and the bronx on the east i'd of the hudson river. including the towns, as you go north, from manhattan and west tester. and hadeavily anglican
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a significant although not majority of loyalist population. loyalistsse anglican was samuel seabury, does that name ring any bells for any of our hamilton fans? he wrote loyalist pamphlets under the pseudonym westchester farmer who alexander hamilton in famously responded to this pamphlet wars leading up to the revolution. particular ify in the first several years of the war started becoming known as the neutral ground. after the battle of white plains. in october of 1776, as the americans were being run out of new york city by the british, and following this battle. ,ctually, in westchester county the american separatists strategic defeat retreated north
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, set up their lines around from river, which is just the northern border of the county. the british set up their lines and north of manhattan, neither really had the inclination nor the military power to establish consistent control over this land. so it did become this no man's land in between the two large armies. in november, 1776, george washington described this area saying that the british have treated without discrimination. the distinction has been lost here in one general scene of ravage and desolation. similar accounts exist on all sides. there were loyalists and patriot populations here trying to protect their property. were, at various points, or british, american and french
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military troops passing through. and various local militia forces, including, among others, delancey's men. nicknamed theroup skinners as well as roving bands of thieves and other criminals taking advantage of the lack of law or control in this area. accounts that were common by may of 1777 the particularly the southern half of the county was considered unsafe for any travelers without an armed escort regard. situation, the governor of new york, in october of 70 and 77, requested that a troop of light horse be raised from the county militia and called the westchester such chores. and he had actually gotten permission from william howe who
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was the commander in chief of the british army in america to have this unit formed during he wrote "this troop is truly elite of the militia of westchester county and their captain mr. james the lancey who is also kernel of the militia, i have much confidence in them for their spirited behavior. group.a rather small four officers just shy of 60 men. and by light horse, they were mounted troops who were valued for being able to maneuver quickly, had fairly loose formations, were able to strike their target quickly and keep notng, hopefully to if evade detection, at least of a capture. -- at least if they'd capture. evade capture. they only operated for about a month, harassing and rating patriot positions particularly
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to forage and fines applies to the british army. but they were disbanded by the governor in november of 1777. so, the unit that james delancey is more known for was officially called the westchester refugees. also maybe more commonly known as the lancey -- delancey's cowboys which by some was considered one of the most effective loyalist units in the northern theater. it was also authorized by .overnor -- in late 1776, a little prior. cores a mixed loyalist having one troop of light horse and two companies of infantryman. it was part of a lawyer was provincial court, which was organized under the command of the british army in north america, a little bit more of a regular unit treated somewhat comparably to the regular units in the british army. this is supposed to more irregular units, local militia,
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or independent companies that would be operating a little bit more independently from the larger british armies. throughout america and the war, loyalist provisional court numbered 6000 men in 30 units in 1778 and by the end of the war, 10,000 men in over 50 units. not an insignificant number. refugees at most numbered about 500 men. one time, more like 150 to 200 men, which was about average for a loyalist core in the colonies. the men were primarily draws the westchester county militia and were commanded by colonel james delancey. they were called the refugees because many of these men as loyalist had either had their property confiscated or had otherwise had to flee their homes and take refuge with the british army.
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were also supplied by the british with their uniforms and arms, although the rank-and-file particular were not always properly outfitted, which you will find through the american ranks as well. so, they operated chiefly in and around their native westchester county. here in this contemporary map from february of some seven, she see the aftermath of the battle of white plains and this no man's land, westchester county on the right-hand side of the map. all the way from the northern tip of manhattan with new jersey on the left, part of connecticut on the right, extending up to. to obtainit aims were is it -- provisions for the larger british army, keep communications open through the county, protect the critical post at kings ridge, which was
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in the very southern tet of the county, so zooming in, the very bottom. you can see the tip of manhattan coming up and kingsbridge, arching over next to the hudson river this was the main passage north out of manhattan at the british army. this is a critical point to keep ed as well as in british hands. the unit also took prisoners for exchange to the patriot lines, captured british deserters, and tried as much as i could to protect loyalist residents and their properties. were incredibly active in not just new york in westchester, but also connecticut and sometimes new 1777 all theate way into the fall of 1782 and probably at least 50 of not 100 different engagements over that and actions that probably
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did not even warrant the term engagement, smaller actions. these may seem in significant as we are used to hearing about large battles involving thousands and thousands of men, the formal british and american units with regular generals commanding and those more significant engagements. what was happening here in the surrounding areas were typically engagements, 100, 150 men. on both sides, combined. strategic even battles, sometimes just popping in to a farm or other area and trying to seize cattle or other provisions. not really even trying to attack an enemy position. and so through their actions, it's really a microlevel of the war, on a local level, it's what
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residents this close to the main british and american armies had happening in their backyard. still played a significant role in the way the british and american armies acted in new york and especially the early period of the war. himself was captured in 1777, delivered in general israel putnam who ordered that he be held and hartford, connecticut. pretty returned to new york city by december of 1777. but according to a petition of the county committee of safety which was a group of patriot americans sent to governor george clinton december 6 of 1777, he was supposed to remain ,t his house while on parole not engaging in military activity but instead, he quickly returned to the head of the unit petition,ing to the
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was "acting with the greatest then an unimaginable against the --d people of his county." the greatest venom imaginable." this particular unit were quickly branded outlaws and savage, notorious men acting in pillaging,, plundering, stealing and mistreating residents of any sort, not asking first if they were loyalist or patriot and so incrediblylancey was a lot of anger and emotional reactions in the county and beyond. one of the more noteworthy events that his cowboys were involved in was a fight new the river.
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on the northern end of the county in new york which is now yorktown. where colonel christopher green's headquarters was at richard davenport's house along the river. regarding one of the crossings near the american line. this was in may of 1781 and green was killed. he was commander of the first rhode island regiment, famous for recruiting african-american soldiers. and some notoriety for that. it was at the hands of his men that christopher green met his end. george washington reported the engagement the congress three days later, summarizing " surprised new the river by 60 horse and 200 foot under colonel james delancey. 44 killed, wounded and missing. attempted to cut him off, but he got away. many of the group actions did not involve this level of
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violence or excitement. inypical raid was recounted october 16, 1777 which reported "last sunday, colonel james delancey with 60 of his westchester light horse went from kingsbridge to the white plains where they took from the , near 44 barrels of flour 100 head of black cattle and 300 sheep and hog. which"really , honestly was probably what they were most prized for by the regular british army, bringing in these sorts of supplies. delancey himself described what he thought his effectiveness was. to a worldrial commission that was set up at the end of the war to a violent loyalist claims for compensation of their losses and service during the war. this is april of 1783. service thens of a enemy has been constantly kept
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at such a distance from kings bridge as to render that post perfectly secure and to keep up communication with the country people for the supplies of magazines and markets at new york. that the enemy have been repelled and every attempt to destroy the people under your memorial is command, and that in the many engagements he has had with them, he has been so fortunate as to capture a number sufficient not only for the exchange of his own men but for the release of 500 british prisoners. in modern literature that delancey is poor. there's sort of an equal amount of evidence on either side that the core was fairly aggressive in the county, was involved certainly in a number of dozens inactions which resulted sundering of local farms and communities, attacks on patriots in the county.
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there were also accounts and evidence of him trying to impose discipline and order on his then, treating the unit much more comparably to the expectations of british regulars. and he continued in that memorial to the world commission that he had at all times exerted the most anxious and unwearied attention to preserve the property and the inhabitants and the country and before them every protection by which means he is well convinced that he has acquired and maintained in the firm and general attachment, at least of some of them, as were butlly disposed. that he now finds to his great mortification that there's a number of people irritated at thezeal and services in cause of government who secretly endeavor to prejudice him and byr excellency's opinion collecting in an underhanded manner depositions respecting every irregularity committed in the county of westchester and its vicinities, which are indiscriminately charged against the refugees under his command,
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although most of them have originated from people who have no connection with the core." as a mentioned, the core acted really actively in the county until the end of 1782. at which time after the siege of yorktown and the evacuation of some british troops from remaining cities, that the writing was on the wall for the loyalists and had a decision to make. would they stay and suffer through the violence that had already started, particularly in new york against those who have remained loyal to the crown? or would they flee to london or other parts of england or to canada, nova scotia in particular? delanceyof 1783, resigned his commission after the formal end of the war neared and his family decided to leave new york for nova scotia.
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as did really most all other members of his cowboys. scotiad resettle in nova and his large family group ended up including not just himself, his life and his baby, but his brother and sister and their families. of slaves a number that the family took with them to nobles -- nova scotia. they had lost their land in america. but still had considerable wealth and personal property to establish their lives in canada. bought hisn delancey property in nova scotia upon which to build his new residence, he set something like 850 pounds to acquire the land. a significant amount of land and build a house. in some ways, sort of continued the status and their level of comfort in canada.
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portrait, to our james delancey is wearing the uniform of the militia of the colony of new york. in westchester county, in particular. was modified in some ways through his command of the westchester refugees and his troop of light horse, those mounted cavalry troops. he's wearing a scarlet coat with dark blue facings and the coat lined in buff. he has silver buttons that are in pairs on the lapels, two silver applets trimmed in blue. he's wearing a shoulder belt across his coat silver plates bearing gr for king george. a white shirt, bridges, a red fabric sash and in the lower visible, --l\t is
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a hilt is visible. we think it was painted between 70 and 88 and 1782 which matches the years he would have worn takenniform, having command of this unit in 1777. although, captured, so perhaps not having the opportunity to have this painted into the next year. of 1782, as the war neared the end, probably nearing the end of the window when he would be interested in having a portrait painted. at least, in america. it's possible we may be able to narrow the window. to light horse were supposed be wearing green codes from the beginning of the war as most of the loyalist would. points, britain
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and the british army were transitioning those loyalist court to redcoats matching the british regulars. 1781 his troops were supposed to be switching to scarlet coats. it could be an even tighter window when this portrait was painted. regardless, it was painted during the war which is a particularly rare thing to find for loyalist. it's attributed to john durand artist an itinerant working in america during the europe.onary phase unfortunately a lot of uncertainties in what we know about john durand but the best available information at this point is that he was probably born in london about 1746 the parents with french roots. his father jonas was an artisan
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who died in 1775. john was probably an apprentice to the painter charles cap in london to 1767 as the apprenticeship was about seven years typically. he was best known for landscapes, animals, and coach painting. not so much on easel paintings or portraits. this is how durand was trained. he arrived in america about 1767 after his apprenticeship. he settled in new york and began painting immediately with trips to connecticut and soon to virginia and that's the area that he would travel throughout over the next 20 years. ads when hewspaper arrived in a new town to advertise his services and attract clientele. ways we one of the best can track his movements although that leaves a lot of gaps as well as his advertisements don't
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remain. the last known reference we have when he is referred to on a personal property list in virginia, taken that year. we don't know anything about his life or work after 1782. he died shortly after or left the country, we don't know. that also gives us an endpoint for when the portrait could've been painted. here's a close-up of some of the uniform details. durand's style was flat, linear, with fairly expressionless centers in his early years. this is typical of people who were trained as a or coach painters, which employed a more simplified approach using outlining and large blocks of
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saturated colors. here, we see two of his earlier works. also left, william beekman who was painted in new york city in november of 1767, probably one of the first portraits that durand painted in america. william was one of six children of the wealthy and influential new yorker james beekman who paid durand to paint all six of his children. those paintings were his first commission and america. so, you see really bright, saturated colors, it's linear. the shadowing is pretty written mentoring. three-dimensional qualities are not really there. you can really see that in the mask and other details of the table under where his elbows resting. looks pretty flat. right, sarah of connecticut which was painted the following year.
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particular. she does look very flat, there is a rudimentary approach the fabric in particular that's pretty simple. him advance his style . bit in 1770 these are two of his later works on the left, daniel painted in norfolk, virginia in 1774. he was a merchant. this falls pretty evenly in the middle of the ark of durand's career. bit more is a little unique, a little better modeled. there more convincing shadows in the work. this is also incorporating knowledge of popular british elements of portraiture and composition. around the painted half open letter that he is 1774ng that is dated
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giving context to the painting. on the right, we have misses robert gilliam. in 1780. she's the wife of a planter in prince george county where petersburg is located. here, we really see the improved rendering of fabrics. her face also has more detail and also more convincing shadows here. delancey falls somewhere between these two early and late styles. his clothing is rather flat, linear, almost seems to be outlined. single, plain colors. i think his face is better modeled. there's something pleasing about
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it, he has a slight smile to him. there's a more plain, money background. conserve yet,d it so i wonder if that will reveal some more details, particularly in the lower right jury there seems to be a black area, almost a half or some other detail that we might see more of. by size of this canvas at 30 25 is also more typical of the he wasy smaller sizes using in the second half of his career which might seem like a very small detail but artists in america were using fairly , asdard sizes for paintings they were typically importing canvases from britain. so, this is a fairly standard size. it's not the only known painting of james delancey.
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this is a slightly later .ortrait oil on wood panel dated about 1784, that was painted by an unidentified artist in london. and his family decided to leave new york, he actually sailed directly to london while the rest of his family went to nova scotia. he arrived in the summer of 1783 in order to present his claim in front of that royal commission to secure compensation from the crown for his losses in america. there for a year and actually did not sail for canada to the fall of 1784. i will say he was successful in his claim and he ended up securing an allowance of 200 pounds per year, which is a fair amount of money at that point. so here, he's wearing a fairly similar uniform to what you see in our painting, that infantry officer uniform of the militia, the colony of new york as a kernel. , anda few differences
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--ulet on his white shoulder right shoulder which is the case for automation ranks of the time. a also has on his hip delicate small sword rather than saber in ouravalry painting. this is the uniform he would have reverted to at the end of the war. as his refugee unit, that cavalry troop was only the duration of the war. in nova scotia, he did continue on in militia service in canada. so he would have had cause to continue to wear some sort of uniform. putting both of these paintings in context, portraits of american loyalists are rare. particularly painted during the war. you will find portraits before
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the war of men who would become loyal to the crown once the fighting broke out. you will also find portraits like this one on the screen tainted immediately after the war, particularly after someone had fled either to london or to canada where they had a little relax,mfort space to have your portrait painted once your situation was settled. actually painted in america during wartime was fairly rare. even more rare to then find those loyalists who took up arms against the patriot cause, painted during that time in uniform. there's only a handful of those known. our portrait that we just , andred of james delancey another one that we know of painted by henry ben rich possibly around 1781 in a private collection.
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he was a massachusetts born surgeon who served in the royal navy throughout the war. rarity ofarticular portraits particularly of those who serve in the military during the war makes this painting very special. it,re delighted to have happy to share it with you all today. i'd be happy to answer any questions you have and that afterwards invite you all up to take a look at the painting as well as some manuscripts from our collection that i hold out. we unfortunately don't have any documents, original documents that were written by our james delancey himself, but because his extended important family, we have a variety of documents from the revolutionary war that were written by or about his uncles and cousins who all also participated in loyalist units. so, thank you very much. [applause]
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anyone have any questions? what happened to the loyalists after the war is a big topic that there's a lot of historians working on right now. i am not one of those people. but in general, there was that decision to stay or go, and the number of them did stay and as a mentioned in 1783, 84, there was a good amount of harassment, violence, laws passed in order to strip loyalists of their rights to enter certain professions, to hold their own property, in order to vote, in order to have taxes levied on them that others weren't. there was a good amount of of people day-to-day which some did. a lot of them did choose to leave and canada was a popular destination.
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from the southern colonies, but a lot of new york loyalists went to nova scotia in particular and established homes. england,go to particularly london and other places. >> a couple of questions. one, was there any kind of prisoner exchange system? that they let them go and just put him under house arrest. a veryil war had complicated exchange system, was there anything like that during the war? second, what happened to the family in nova scotia? is there still a presence in nova scotia? >> interesting. the first question was a system of managing and exchanging prisoners especially at the officer level during the revolution.
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i think it relied on some sort gentleman'sonor agreement, but typically when an officer was captured, he was not held prisoner very long and if there was not a suitable, similarly ranked when delancey was taken prisoner, the americans are holding them. if there was not a similarly ranked american prisoner in british hands that they could be exchanged for, he would be held for a short amount of time and the typically released on parole. and sometimes that involved involve being able to return to his house. a lot of times, this required them to sign a document that they would not return to military action for some longer time and that was the on your honor part of wings. think that's what that petition that i read from may be referring to, that he was supposed to go back to his house, and he didn't.
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he stayed at his unit harassing the countryside. on peopleidn't rely keeping their word, which often times happened. there could be prisoner exchanges of people who were out on parole. they went back to military service and once they were exchanged, a prisoner from the side that was holding them was returned, they could then be released to return to military action. positions in the administration of both the american and british armies that were commissary of prisoners and in charge of negotiating all of this. your second question about the ifily, i don't know today they still have a presence in nova scotia. the family was prominent immediately upon relocating
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james and his brother stephen both held local offices. james even had a legislative assembly in nova scotia and held positions in the militia so they did have prominent places in those communities. i don't know anymore. the only name i've seen more of a descendent is the ,wner of this other portrait the delancey family and one of the times it was published i think in the 1980's it was attributed to the owner in roanoke, virginia. i think they have dispersed, perhaps. but it's a large family as well. it was, in the 18th century, presumably, even larger today. us of then you tell dealer process for final
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evidence for identifying the center and if you did not have becomend of information, across this painting, we want to identify it. how do we even start? a good question, we were fortunate that the dealer ,ho we have worked with before his particular specialty is in british uniforms and military actors in that revolution p eriod. he said that he found this at auction and chicago, we don't know anymore. , he was's on that end going a lot on the uniform of the painting and comparing it to the other known portraits of james delancey. how similar those uniforms were. rank is an easy tell for
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this particular unit, as small as it was. there was only one kernel involved. there's really not much room to thatell, how do we know delancey did not come out of the family directly? maybe it's another member? not at that rank. i think that was his prompt that led him to his decision. inh the number of delanceys various similar units at the there are some sort of overlaps, or there have been in a few other portraits that i know of of other family members in military uniform at the time. in we were pretty confident the dealer rationale that this was james and not another member of the family, as other members of the family had slightly different uniforms which are
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also fairly well described and contemporary sources. american as with units, you always have the problem of what is the standard regulation and what actually happened, if there were shortages, and you have the loyalist core, as noble as it was to treat them similarly to the british regulars, they were not as priority. if there was a shortage of a particular color, they might not have gotten their scarlet coats and gone on with green for longer. so, it was our relationship with the dealer and working through his process that made us party confident that it is james delancey. thank you very much. hope you will come up and take a look more closely at the painting and these manuscripts,
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and thanks again for coming. [applause] announcer: you're watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. to join the conversation, like us on facebook at c-span history. tonight, on q&a. penn state history professor amy greenberg discusses her book "lady first: the world of first lady sarah polk." >> i was so astounded by all the stuff she did and the way she exercise power. she wrote letters to a supreme court justice and members of congress that were completely
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politics, 100% about and were not noticeably different from a letter that a man would write. and they wrote back to her. announcer: tonight at 8:00 eastern on q&a. next on lectures in history. university of chicago professor jane daly teaches a class about the 1968 presidential election, politics, and protest over the vietnam war and other issues during richard nixon's first term. unrest in chicago during the democratic national convention, gives background on each of the presidential candidates, and outlines the lead up to the watergate break-in. her classes about 50 minutes. >> today, we are going to start with a 90 the eight democratic national convention. we are going to talk about the 1968 presidential election.


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