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Historical Glossary (o-s)

Paine, Thomas (1737-1809), English pamphleteer and political radical. Newtonian science influenced Paine's thinking along progressive lines. He left England in 1774 with a letter of introduction from Benjamin Franklin and settled in Philadelphia. He became famous for his activities on behalf of the colonies during the American Revolution and in France during the French Revolution. More than 100,000 copies of his political treatise Common Sense (1776) were published in America within a few months. It was influential in bringing about the Declaration of Independence. Other works by Paine include The Rights of Man and The Age of Reason, for which he was called an atheist.

Paine lived a turbulent career. He held several offices in the colonies during the Revolution but made enemies and subsequently lost favor. In France he was made an honorary citizen by the republican government in 1792 and was a delegate to the Convention until imprisoned as an enemy during the Reign of Terror. Paine died in the United States in poverty, denounced as a radical and an atheist. In later years he came to be regarded as an American patriot and an important crusader for democratic rights.

Peale, Charles Willson (1741-1827), American portrait and genre painter. Born in Queen Anne's County, Maryland, he was the son of a schoolmaster. Peale tried his hand at several crafts including saddle making before attempting to earn a living at sign painting. His interest in portrait painting began when he learned that people would pay money for their likenesses.

At first Peale approached painting not as fine art but as a craft. He bought himself a "how-to" book and traded John Hesselius a saddle for some painting lessons. In 1765 Peale visited John Smibert's old studio in Boston, where he met John Singleton Copley, and then spent two years in London (1767-1769) under the tutelage of Benjamin West. A marked change in his style is seen after his exposure to the high style art of London, where his works were hung alongside some of the great English pictures of the day. Peale was particularly impressed by Gainsborough's portrait of Captain Harvey, with his cross-legged stance of casual elegance. This influence is apparent in his state portraits of George Washington. The artist's other famous works include portraits of William Pitt (1768), Nancy Hallam as Fidele in Cymbeline (1771), The Cadwalader Family (1772) as well as Rachel Weeping (1772), The Staircase Group (1795), and The Exhumation of the Mastodon (1806-1808).

Peale's career was interrupted by the Revolution, during which he fought in the battles of Trenton and Princeton. He also invented mechanical devices, was a scholar of natural history, and founded our first national museum in 1789 and the American Academy of Fine Arts in 1794, both in Philadelphia. Peale's ability to capture the character of his subjects and his industrious nature took him from humble beginnings to a position of prosperity and social position, making him the epitome of the American self-made man.

Pelham, Peter, Jr. (1721-1805), Williamsburg musician, clerk, and jailor. He was born in London and immigrated to Boston with his father and brothers. His father married John Singleton Copley's widowed mother, making Pelham and the well-known artist stepbrothers. Peter Pelham came to Williamsburg in 1751 after serving as organist at Trinity Church in Boston. For the next half century he blessed the city with his musical talents, acting as organist at Bruton Parish Church (beginning in 1755), giving instruction on organ and harpsichord and advice on ordering musical instruments from London, and providing music for the theater, including the 1768 performance of The Beggar's Opera. This wide range of services helped him support his large family. He also did clerical work for the House of Burgesses and for at least two royal governors and served as the Public Gaoler from 1771 to 1780.

Peter Pelham received much of his education from his talented father (Peter Pelham, Sr., best known as an engraver), who instilled in him a deep appreciation for the arts that remained with him throughout his life.

Polite Refusal (1784), satirical extract from Benjamin Franklin's pamphlet, Remarks Concerning the Savage of North America. "We know that you highly esteem the kind of learning taught in those colleges . . . . But you, who are wise, must know that different nations have different conceptions of things: and you will not therefore take it amiss, if our ideas of this kind of education happen not to be the same with yours. We have had some experience of it; several of our young people were formerly brought up at the colleges of the northern provinces; they were instructed in all your sciences; but, when they came back to us, they were bad runners, ignorant of every means of living in the woods, unable to bear either cold or hunger, knew neither how to build a cabin, take a deer, nor kill an enemy, spoke our language imperfectly, were therefore neither fit for hunters, warriors, nor councellors; they were totally good for nothing.

"We are however not the less obligated by your kind offer, though we decline accepting it; and, to show our grateful sense of it, if the gentlemen of Virginia will send us a dozen of their sons, we will take care of their education, instruct them in all we know, and make men of them."

Pope, Alexander (1688-1744), English poet and satirist. His boyhood interest in the great epic poems of Homer, Virgil, and Milton was a springboard to his successful career as a poet. Pope's early works imitated epic poetry, but he soon created his own style. Pope felt that as a poet he occupied a unique position to use satire to criticize the moral and political weaknesses of the society in which he lived. The Rape of the Lock (1712), his greatest work, used the framework of an epic to magnify a trivial incident out of proportion. Less successful was An Essay on Man (1733-1734), which deals with man's relation to the universe, to himself, to society, and to happiness. He engaged in a literary warfare of sorts with his one-time friend, Joseph Addison, causing both contemporaries and biographers to label him "waspish" and "vindictive." Nevertheless, he probably was the only eighteenth-century writer to be financially successful as a poet, success which he achieved in spite of the restrictions placed on him as a result of his Catholicism and physical deformity from infantile paralysis. Pope's works appeared in the inventories of prominent eighteenth-century Virginians including Robert Carter and Thomas Jefferson.

Pratt, Matthew (1734-1805), American painter who organized the first recorded art exhibition in Williamsburg. According to the March 4, 1773, Virginia Gazette, he "brought with him . . . a small but very neat Collection of Paintings, which [were exhibited] at Mrs. Vobe's near the Capitol." By that time Pratt had been a professional painter for eighteen years, working both in the colonies and abroad.

Born in Philadelphia, the artist was apprenticed to painter James Claypoole. Pratt set up shop as a portrait painter in 1758, six years later making the important artistic journey to London to study with American-born Benjamin West. In 1768 Pratt reopened his studio in Philadelphia and made excursions to New York and Virginia. He was forced to revert to sign painting in the depressed years after the Revolution.

Purcell, Henry (ca. 1659-1695), English-born composer. He became composer for the King's band in 1677 and organist at Westminster Abbey in 1679. His first printed composition appears in John Playford's Choice Ayres, volume 1, in 1675. Purcell was a prolific composer of baroque church music, chamber music, masques such as The Fairy Queen (1692), and one opera, Dido and Aeneas (1689), which reflected the direction of English opera at that time because of its mixture of French and Italian styles and many English idioms. His death at the age of thirty-six halted the development of this style and led the way for the domination of Italian opera in England in the early eighteenth century.

Questionnaire, Parish (1724), report on Virginia's parish activities to the Bishop of London. James Blair was the rector of Bruton Parish Church at that time and his answer to the following question is a good example of the type of information that was collected.

"QUESTION -- How oft is the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper administered? And what is the usual number of Communicants?

"ANSWER -- I administer the Sacrament four times in the year, viz; at Christmas, Easter, Whitsunday and the nearest Sunday to Michaelmas. There are about 50 communicants." (Whitsunday is Pentecost, the seventh Sunday after Easter, and Michaelmas Day is on September 29.)

There are also questions about the Sunday service, the catechizing of the youth, the salary of the rector, and the church's educational endeavors. The answers to these questions do not tell the entire story but go a long way toward giving us an understanding of Anglican practices in the local parish.

An original copy of the questionnaire with Blair's handwritten answers can be seen on microfilm (reel M-286) in the Foundation Library.

Radcliffe Camera, The, (1737 - 1747), one of the libraries at Oxford University. Its dome is considered the chief distinctive mark of the Oxford skyline. The architect was James Gibbs (1682-1754), who also designed many of the churches called for in Sir Christopher Wren's design for London, including St. Martin's-in-the-Fields. The library is considered Gibbs's crowning achievement because of the way it was integrated into the skyline and the campus.

The term camera comes from the Latin meaning "a vaulted space"; thus, camera and rotunda are by definition interchangeable terms.

Repton, Humphry (1752-1818), English landscape architect and architect. He began his career comparatively late in life, starting at age thirty six. When Repton married at the age of twenty one his father set him up as a general merchant in Norwich, but his heart was not in it; soon after his father's death he sold the business and bought a small estate. He spent the next five years gardening and making drawings of natural scenes and the country houses nearby. His principal contribution was in bringing back the flower garden to surround the house. Very often this was made on a terrace, fenced or balustraded, which served the function of a haha.

In the next thirty years Repton established himself as a fashionable consultant of the period and traveled extensively, produced elegant watercolor designs and meticulous descriptive proposals for his various clients, called "Red Books", and wrote several other books. His way of presenting pictorial views from his Red Books in a "before and after" fashion was a novel and ground-breaking presentational method in his day. Some of his notable commissions and surviving landscapes may be seen today at Corsham Court, Uppark, Hanworth, and Sheffield Park.

Reynolds, Joshua (1723-1792), English portrait painter. After an apprenticeship in London and a trip abroad to study the masters, Reynolds returned to London to paint ambitious portraits of society's elite. When the Royal Academy of Art was founded in 1768, Reynolds was elected president. He was knighted by George III in 1769, the same year his first Discourse on art was published. After the death of Allan Ramsay in 1784, Reynolds was made Painter to the King.

Like Lely and Kneller before him, Reynolds maintained a large and profitable studio with many assistants. His popularity as a portraitist may in part be explained by his genius for enhancing nature, often supplying character or psychological depth where little actually existed. His well-known works include Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, and her Daughter (1786); George August Eliott, Lord Heathfield (1788); Sarah Siddons as the Tragic Muse (1784); and David Garric Between Tragedy and Comedy (1762).

Rosetta Stone, Discovery of (1799), key to understanding Egyptian hieroglyphics. Hieroglyphs had fallen into disuse after the decline of ancient Egypt, and the language remained indecipherable for over a thousand years. In 1799 some of Napoleon's soldiers found a rock slab in the rubble of a wall near the Egyptian town of Rosetta. It was inscribed in three languages--hieroglyphic, demotic, and Greek. The writings were versions of the same text, a decree made at Memphis, capital of ancient Egypt, in 195 B.C. to commemorate the coronation of Ptolemy V, providing the key to the eventual translation of Egyptian hieroglyphics.

Napoleon took an immediate interest in the tablet and ordered impressions from the stone sent to scholars in Europe, who were able to translate the Greek but only a fraction of the hieroglyphs. In 1801 a French boy, Jean François Champollion (1790 - 1832), was shown fragments of papyrus and stone tablets with hieroglyphs and was told that no one understood their meaning. Vowing to read them one day, he prepared himself by learning a dozen languages including Greek, Hebrew, and Coptic (a later version of the Egyptian language still used in Coptic-Egyptian Christian church services). In 1822 Champollion unlocked the mystery of the ancient Egyptian language. When he deciphered the hieroglyphs on the Rosetta Stone his discovery ushered in the era of modern Egyptology. The Rosetta Stone is on display at the British Museum in London.

Rosewell (ca.1721-ca.1740), Page family home in Gloucester County. An imposing brick mansion, three stories in height over a full cellar, the building's form was derived from well-to-do English merchant houses of the first quarter of the eighteenth century, as indicated by its segmental window arches, stone dressings, fenestration patterns, and proportions.

Mann Page I began construction of the house, but it was probably not completed until the tenure of his son Mann Page II. The interior layout of the house included an off-centered hall with major and minor stairs and three other rooms on the first floor. Its unusual arrangement apparently was not emulated by Page's peers, possibly because it did not allow for public vs. private needs within architectural spaces as they developed throughout the course of the century. The house was further distinguished by the use of a flat roof covered with lead and graced with two cupolas. Rosewell was altered in the nineteenth century and gutted by fire in 1916. The ruins have been stabilized by the Gloucester County Historical Society and are occasionally open to the public.

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques (1712-1778), Swiss-born French philosopher, author, and political theorist. At age sixteen he left Geneva and eventually settled in Parish where he became acquainted with Denis Diderot and joined the group of intellectuals writing the Encyclopédie, with whom he soon quarrelled. Rousseau moved to the countryside in 1765, but his work stirred up such controversy in France that he accepted David Hume's invitation to live in England. Suspicious of everyone around him, Rousseau moved back to France in 1767 and spent most of his final years in Paris.

Rousseau was the foremost social theorist of the eighteenth century. A Discourse on the Sciences and the Arts (1750) introduced his thoughts on the nature of man and society. In it and the essay The Origin of Inequality (1754) Rousseau argued that society corrupted man's inherent goodness and that the more sophisticated the society, the more harmful it was. Man's natural goodness became the keystone of Rousseau's theories. In society men gradually give unwarranted value to natural differences in talent, an initial step toward social inequality compounded when the notion of private property was introduced. Thereafter, laws and governments were created to protect property ownership. Rousseau did not believe men could return to a happier state of nature, but in The Social Contract (1762) he offered a model of society he believed was less corrupting. Civil society was based on a social contract wherein one gave up individual independence to live in obedience to the general will. Law and government worked to equate the general will with the wishes of individuals, and a government's sovereignty rested with the people who could withdraw it. In his essay Emile (1762) Rousseau proposed a system of education designed to strengthen man's basic goodness in preparation for republican citizenship. Following Locke, Rousseau argued that children learned through their senses from experience, which the teacher should manipulate to reinforce students' natural tendencies. Rousseau is also well known for his Confessions (1782-1789). In this highly personal, emotional apology for his life, he created a new form of autobiography. This work was a bridge from the eighteenth-century Enlightenment to the romantic age of the early nineteenth century.

Royal Society, The (more fully, the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge) is usally considered to have been founded in 1660. A nucleus had been formed some years earlier, however, by "divers worthy persons, inquisitive into natural philosophy and other parts of human learning, and particularly of what hath been called the New Philosophy or Experimental Philosophy." the charter of incorporation was granted in 1662.

From its founding the society encouraged collectors in North America. Correspondence with continental philosophers and naturalists was an important part of the society's work. Selections from this correspondence, describing some of the "present undertakings, studies and labours of the Ingenious in many considerable parts of the world," were published in the society's highly important Philosophical Transactions. Much of the information was received from Mark Catesby, John Mitchell, and Alexander Garden.

The Royal Society burgeoned into an exclusive club whose membership included eminent men in Britain and in the North American colonies. Exclusiveness did not rest merely on birth and fortune; talent and ability were carefully weighed. The names of fellows of the Royal Society, men concerned with the miracles of nature in new lands overseas, were well known in households that shared the same interest.

Servants, and Slaves, Act Concerning (1705), Virginia law summarizing seventeenth-century legislation on slaves and free blacks. The act codified earlier proscriptions against Indians, Jews, "Mahometans," and blacks owning any white or Christian servant (1670); prohibitions on interracial marriages and sex (1691); provisions and procedures for dealing with runaways (1670); restrictions on permitting slaves to gather without permission (1682); the stripping of weapons (1680) and livestock (1692) from slaves; the elimination of prosecution for killing a slave while under correction (1669) or in taking an outlawed slave (1680 and 1691) but making owners liable for damages done by slaves on unsupervised quarters (1692); establishing corporal punishment for any black, slave or free, who physically resisted any white (1680); declaring that children inherit the status of their mothers (1662) and that baptism does not free the converted slave (1667) are among the important restatements appearing in the 1705 legislation. The law also declared for the first time that a slave's presence in England did not bring freedom.

Similar efforts to control indentured servants but also to define the limitations of a master's power over them are major parts of this act. The latter provisions reveal the different legal status of servant and slave clearly evident by the beginning of the eighteenth century. Subsequent laws (particularly in 1723 and 1748) also summarize and collate as well as modify this and other legislation on slavery and free blacks.

Sheraton, Thomas (1751-1806), English cabinetmaker and furniture designer. While he possessed great artistic talent, his life was one of poverty and disappointment because of his eccentricity. About 1770 Sheraton settled in London. From about 1793 he supported his family by publishing directories about cabinetmaking. The popular conception of the Sheraton style is based on a book of designs, The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer's Drawing-Book. The delicate details he introduced have never been surpassed in English furniture design, and his early work was greatly influenced by the classic forms of Robert Adam and the Louis XVI style. Because it is of a later period, Sheraton's influence was not seen in colonial Virginia.

Small, William (1734-1775), influential philosophical professor at the College of William and Mary. Educated in Scotland, Small came to Williamsburg in 1758 and was asked to take over the College's instruction in Natural Philosophy (science and mathematics) and Moral Philosophy (ethics, rhetoric, and belles lettres). As an apostle of the Enlightenment, he brought to his teaching a liberal mind and a way of viewing the world that made a great impression on his pupils. Among them was Thomas Jefferson, whose intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm for learning brought about a friendship between them and with Governor Francis Fauquier and the classical scholar and lawyer George Wythe. During dinners with the governor at the Palace, they held profound philosophical discussions that left a lasting impression on Jefferson, who credited Small with guiding him in his study of the "system of things in which we are placed." In ultimate tribute Jefferson declared that William Small "fixed the destinies of my life."

Smallpox Riots (1768), Norfolk, Virginia, demonstrations against inoculation. They were instigated when a local doctor wanted to inoculate a group of friends and their families against smallpox. Public sentiment was against them, but the gentlemen proceeded with arrangements to be inoculated on a plantation on Tanner Creek three miles outside of town. Factions opposing the practice rose up and asked the magistrate to restrain the party. He refused. Those in protest met with the pro-inoculationists and achieved a postponement until after the Court of Oyer and Terminer met in Williamsburg on June 14. When nothing was heard from the court, the inoculations took place on June 25 as previously planned. Angry mobs then drove those who had been inoculated through the streets during a thunderstorm to the pesthouse and on June 27 full-scale rioting broke out, complete with destruction to the inoculants' homes.

Throughout the summer court battles raged between the two factions. The pro-inoculationists engaged young Thomas Jefferson as their counsel and were cleared. A second riot the next year involved basically the same people; however, the inoculation issue was latent and the tense political relations with England were becoming more predominant.

Smith, Adam (1723-1790), Scottish moral philosopher and political economist. He was a lecturer at the University of Glasgow, and within this wide-ranging discipline he sought to determine rational order and moral purpose in a chaotic world. In 1776 his book The Wealth of Nations was published. It is a democratic philosophy of wealth--a revolutionary idea that held that wealth consists of goods which all members of society consume. This philosophy of free trade is governed by two primary laws of behavior: the law of accumulation and the law of population. Smith believed that as supplies of money, machinery, and goods grew, increased numbers of workers would join the work force, attracted by higher wages and improved working conditions. This process would not require government control but would be self-regulating through the forces of competition and would, through supply and demand, achieve economic and social harmony.

Adam Smith's rational approach to societal organization was reflected in the thinking of Virginia's colonial leaders. Jefferson stated that "in political economy, I think Smith's Wealth of Nations is the best book extant."

Statute for Religious Freedom, Virginia (1786), Thomas Jefferson's radical bill for religious freedom. He first stated publicly this principle in 1776 and introduced it in the Virginia Assembly in 1779, but it was not enacted until seven years later. The key provision holds "that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities." This statute dissolved forever the ancient practice of state support for Christianity and penalization of nonconformism.

The disestablishment of Virginia's Anglican church began in Williamsburg in 1776 with the adoption of Article 16 of the Virginia Declaration of Rights. Drafted by George Mason and amended by James Madison, this article declares that "all men are equally entitled to the full and free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience." Dismantlement of the complicated scaffolding of church establishment, however, required an equally complicated process of revision and enactment of statute law. In October 1776 the Virginia Assembly enacted a bill for the wholesale revision of the state's laws and named Thomas Jefferson along with four others to undertake the revision. From this effort came an entire new code of laws, first debated in 1779. Bill number 82 in the proposed new code was Jefferson's bill for religious freedom. Opposition to this radical measure, led by Patrick Henry, came from those who believed that even independent, republican states needed healthy religious organizations to be stable and free. Their efforts were buried beneath the petitions of Virginia Baptists, Quakers, Methodists, and Presbyterians and the skillful political maneuvering of James Madison. The Assembly's enactment of the bill for religious freedom in 1786 marked a revolutionary change in Virginia society and prefigured the creation of a national policy on religious freedom embodied in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.

Stuart, Gilbert (1755-1828), American painter. He was raised in Newport, Rhode Island. His early training was from painter Cosmo Alexander, who took the boy on a painting trip through the southern colonies, including Virginia. After a period of itinerant portrait painting in the colonies, Stuart avoided the war by going to London in 1775, where he became Benjamin West's principal assistant.

Fame came to Stuart with his inspired portrait of The Skater, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1782, which ranked him equal to Reynolds and Gainsborough. Unfortunately, Stuart's artistic genius was not matched by financial acuity. The painter was forced to flee his London creditors, returning home to America in 1793 where he painted portraits of many figures of the new republic including George Washington, Martha Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Dolly Madison, James Monroe, Paul Revere, and John Adams.

Summary View of the Rights of British America (1774), Jefferson's proposed instructions to Virginia's delegates to the First Continental Congress. It may have been first presented to a group of Virginia legislators at the Peyton Randolph House. Central to the argument were Jefferson's convictions that (1) American colonists were freeborn Englishmen with all attendant rights and prerogatives, (2) the colonies had established their own institutions of civil government, and (3) colonial assemblies were equal to Parliament in their powers.

It was not new to deny Parliamentary power based upon the "rights of Englishmen," but Jefferson's line of argument in A Summary View was something different. He reasoned that since the colonists had established themselves by their own exertions without material aid from the crown, they were free to adopt such government and laws as they saw fit and that the legislature of any one part of the empire was not to interfere in the government of any other part. The king, however, was voluntarily acknowledged by the colonists as their sovereign so he could exercise the prerogative only insofar as it promoted the interests of the people. Jefferson argued that the king was "no more than the chief officer of the people, appointed by the laws, and circumscribed with definite powers, to use, and consequently subject to their superintendence." He also listed colonial grievances from the time of settlement.

Viewing Jefferson's A Summary View as too revolutionary, the Virginia Convention in Williamsburg adopted a different set of instructions for its delegates to a continental congress claiming only the rights and privileges of British subjects. Nevertheless, A Summary View was printed in several of the colonies and in England marking Jefferson as a prominent formulator of colonial revolutionary thought.