A wildly popular painting by Archibald Willard of Ohio was displayed at the Philadelphia Exposition of 1876. The work was ignored by art critics but loved by the people, and sent on a coast-to coast tour after the exposition was over.
Renamed The Spirit of ’76, it was originally called Yankee Doodle. Models for the Revolutionary War soldiers of one hundred years before included a schoolboy, Willard’s father, and a local farmer who was a fifer in the Civil War. The artist had also served in the infantry during The War Between the States.
An unknown poster designer reincarnated Willard’s work into The Spirit of ’18 above. Three generations were once again marching in a frame, but the tricorn was replaced with a straw hat, and the instruments with bushels of wheat. Media boss George Kreel enlisted “minute men” to give testimonies in front of crowds, in addition to commissioning hundreds of posters to promote the United States’ involvement in the The Great War. Some, like this one, were drumming up support for feeding the Allied troops across the sea (no pun intended).
The Spirit of ’76 canvas is displayed proudly in the town of Marblehead, Massachusetts, one of whose prominent citizens purchased it after its debut in Philadelphia.
The Spirit of ’18 posters are scattered in library and private collections nationwide, with one presently featured in a fascinating display in the Special Collections section of the Indianapolis Public Library. With it is information about the U.S. Food Administration headed by Herbert Hoover. There are more posters included, with canning jars and recipes from a contest a century ago intended to stir up more enthusiasm (I didn’t mean that pun, either).
What is the Spirit of ’18 for us this year? January is not over yet; there are twelve months ahead. Reputable organizations such as Food for the Hungry and Compassion International help us provide food for impoverished young people. We can support those in our country who are trying their best to help others. We can volunteer with children or adults, with the knowledge that small actions have big results. We can conserve food and other natural resources.
And remember that not doing anything is a choice.
Do you like the new look of AmazingBirdCollection? I changed the WordPress “theme” to one with easier access to past blogs. Just click the backward arrow beneath the title to catch up on them. The head photo is one of Theodore Roosevelt’s bookcases at his home, Sagamore Hill, an appropriate symbol for how I got started writing books and blogging.