Iconic representations of Liberty as a concept are necessarily widespread in their use and understanding and evocative of larger meanings than may be accurately ascribed to a particular historical incident or figure. The topics in this section were selected because they function as tropes for these wider implications. The iconic power of Liberty, or Columbia as she was often called, of Washington or Lincoln, of the Liberty Bell or the American and French Revolutions, are abstract but culturally defining, extending in their emotional impact much beyond the historical moment out of which they arose. George Washington as icon has, for example, come to symbolize the American Revolution, Independence, the Founding Father of American government, love of country, honesty, the capitol, and the success of the new nation. He is on dollar bills, noble monuments, and sale ads in newspapers on his birthday. Whole states and countless towns bear his name. Icons are so prevalent in a culture that people may forget the details of their meaning but retain the emotional response to what they represent. These icons of Liberty influenced the imagination of the century, coloring the interpretations cultures made of their history. New generations in turn revised the meaning assigned to the icons. The most durable icons retained their power throughout the nineteenth century, altering their emphasis as historical events gave new perspectives to the idea of Liberty.

Moments in History Historical Figures Nations Images of Liberty Iconography Individual Liberty Political Movements Gendered Icons Dissenting Voices
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