Heroes and Leaders

These are times in which a Genious would wish to live. It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station that great characters are formed. . . . Great necessities call out great virtues.” – Abigail Adams, 1780, Letter to John Adams

Events throughout American history have enabled the rise of Heroes and Leaders. These figures rose to prominence and, at times notoriety, during tumultuous times in our country’s history. Founding Fathers George Washington and John Adams came to prominence during the Revolutionary War, as did the citizen-soldier, personified by figure of the Minute Man. The nineteenth century gave rise to political leaders who could be viewed as both hero and villain, figures such as Andrew Jackson and Shawnee chief Tecumseh. Their actions during the War of 1812 and beyond shaped their legacies for better or worse.

The events of the bloody Civil War forced Americans in the late nineteenth century to look back to the past and identify what made the country great, and how we could be great again. The commemoration of George Washington and the Minute Man in a previously underused artistic medium, sculpted bronze, ensured a permanent, lasting legacy.

The country was thrown into turmoil yet again with the eruption of the Great Depression. Newly elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt set about creating the New Deal, a series of legislation which help put the country back on track creating public works projects, rescuing many American from unemployment. The later twentieth century gave rise to social and civil rights leaders and activists like Cesar Chavez and Malcolm X, heroes to many who felt that the inalienable tenets of American democracy, liberty, freedom, and equality, had for too long been denied to them.

Click on an artwork to learn more about how that artwork connects to the theme of Heroes and Leaders.


19th Century

John Adams

Andrew Jackson full length

Tecumseh 001Pigeon's Egg HeadApotheosis

Washington Resigning His Commission

Concord Minute Man of 1775









20th Century

Construction of the Dam CROP

Farm Altar

By Any Means Necessary Malcolm X