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The Spirit of 76: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

''The Spirit of 76'' is a painting that was made to honor the bravery and patriotism in the United States as it declared independence from Great Britain. Come learn about this painting, who painted it, and why it's important.

What Is The Spirit of 76?

Imagine your favorite singer is coming to town. They are really popular and people are going crazy trying to get tickets to go see them. They don't want to miss out on the concert of the year! Your mom got you tickets as a reward for good grades and you are really excited to see the show.

Now imagine that same excitement, except this time it's because of a painting. Though it's hard to believe that people got that excited over something that usually hangs on the wall in a museum, a painting called The Spirit of 76 got a similar welcome to that singer you can't wait to see.

The Spirit of 76 is a painting that first went on display in 1876 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the United States declaring independence from Great Britain in 1776. It also celebrated the American Revolution and the people's spirit of independence and love of their country. The original is a huge painting that is eight feet wide by ten feet high. That's more than four feet taller than the average adult man!

Who Painted The Spirit of 76?

The Spirit of 76 was painted by a man named Archibald M. Willard in 1875 and was originally called Yankee Doodle. Before he painted it, he first drew it like a funny comic book picture, but decided to make it more serious when he actually painted the picture.

The Spirit of 76
Spirit of 76 painting

He used local townspeople as models for his painting, including his own dad, who is the older man in the middle with the drum. But the original isn't the only version of this painting. Willard later painted at least four and maybe as many as eighteen to thirty-six different editions of The Spirit of 76.

The original painting was first shown in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1876, and then went on tour to different cities. People bought copies of it the way you might buy a copy of a popular movie on DVD today.

Why Was The Spirit of 76 Important?

People were really excited about the painting because the Civil War had ended only 10 years before, the United States' economy wasn't very good and people were still feeling unhappy and divided after the war. The Spirit of 76 reminded them of a time when everyone was united and patriotic, or devoted to their country and freedom, instead of fighting against each other.

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