Dallin and his wife were born in 1861. The Civil War, which also began that year, re-ignited a passion for the values that had been at the core of the American experience that dated from the arrival of the Pilgrims, particularly the pursuit of freedom.
The illustrious figures who are the subjects of Dallin’s historical sculptures trace the evolution of freedom in the US, from the nation’s origins through the artist’s lifetime. Dallin’s iconic Paul Revere, that he labored for 58 years to bring to fruition, champions the American belief in taking rightful action in defense of liberty. Dallin portrays the preservation of democratic republican government and the abolition of slavery with his General Sherman, Oliver Wendell Holmes and Julia Ward Howe. Two figures from the First World War represent the ongoing battle against tyranny in the artist’s lifetime. A founder of the women’s rights movement as well as a Civil War poet, Julia Ward Howe exemplifies a new struggle for freedom that continues into the 21st century.
As well as espousing the prevailing view of American history in Dallin’s time, the artist’s historical sculptures shape our perspective of the appearance of the nation’s iconic figures.