Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Our Founding Fathers Exhibit (And Jim shooting a Musket), Rapid City, South Dakota

The story of how the United States of America began with the signing of the Declaration of Independence is on display here in Rapid City at the America’s Founding Fathers Exhibit.  History meets art in the stunning, life-size sculpture installation of John Trumbull’s iconic “Declaration of Independence” painting. Here, inside a likeness of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, we heard the amazing story of how those 56 patriots forged the American Revolution and invented a country. 
The Liberty Bell

John Trumbell's Painting
Long before Thomas Jefferson’s face was carved in stone at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, a 33-year-old Jefferson held the Declaration of Independence in his hands and presented it to John Hancock and the rest of the 2nd Continental Congress.  Come learn how American democracy was born.

Artist John Trumbull painted his idea of the first draft of the Declaration of Independence being presented by Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston to their fellow members of the Second Continental Congress.  He began planning the painting in 1786, but did not complete the original for nearly 20 years. A 12x18 foot mural of it was commissioned in 1817 to hang in the U.S. Capitol. It was permanently installed in the rotunda in 1826.

Now, a team of talented South Dakota artists has re-invented Trumbull’s iconic “Declaration of Independence” painting into a unique sculpture exhibit that is housed in a representation of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, complete with a 125-foot clock tower, near Rapid City.

We toured the perimeter of the exhibit where there were pictures of all the signers with a bit of history on each of them.  They were all quite extraordinary men, but I only took pictures of a few of them along with their histories.

John Hancock
John Hancock has the most famous signature in history - his is the first and largest name on the Declaration of Independence. He deliberately enlarged it on the famous document, allegedly saying: "There! John Bull can read my name without spectacles and may now double his reward of 500 pounds for my head. That is my defiance."

Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin, perhaps the most famous American of his time, was the oldest signer of the Declaration of Independence. He had little formal education but became wealthy as a printer and publisher of Poor Richard's Almanac. He was famous as a scientist, philosopher, philanthropist, and inventor.

Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence and almost did not arrive in Philadelphia in time to write it. His mother's death kept him away from Congress until mid-May. Jefferson took 17 days to craft the document.

John Adams
John Adams was called the "Atlas of Independence." He was a passionate American patriot who did some of the heaviest political lifting during the debate for independence in Philadelphia. 

Samuel Adams
Samuel Adams was among the earliest voices for American Independence in the colonies. He was an ardent patriot and political agitator, and was called the "Firebrand of the Revolution" for leading the Boston Tea Party.

Jim Gets to Shoot a Musket:

The Musket Range provides an opportunity for visitors to shoot the Kentucky long rifle our founding fathers used while fighting for freedom in the Revolutionary War. Historically, the Kentucky long rifle replaced the European-made “Brown Bessie” rifles that were heavy, short-ranged, and wasted precious powder and lead—making them unsuitable for the American Frontier. During the fight for independence, American gunsmiths reduced the bores to smaller caliber to conserve lead and powder, increased the barrel length for extra thrust, and finally “rifled” the barrel for further range and accuracy. The Kentucky quickly became famous for precision up to 200 yards. Daniel Boone carried a Kentucky long rifle through Cumberland Gap.

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