“Every virtuous citizen is depending on you to rid this land of the ministerial troops that have brought wanton destruction to its shores and is attempting to enslave America. The time is now near at hand which will probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves, whether they are to have any property they can call their own, or whether their houses and farms are to be pillaged and destroyed and they consigned to a state of wretchedness from which they cannot be delivered. Our cruel and unrelenting Enemy leaves us no choice but a brave resistance or the most abject submission.” George Washington
Read: Address of General George Washington to his Troops, Christmas Day 1776
The Story Behind the Painting
Catherine Van Rensselaer Schuyler (1734-1803) was born in Claverock, Columbia County, NY to wealthy Dutch immigrant parents. She received a good education and in 1755 married Phillip John Schuyler, a young man from a wealthy land-holding family. Some years later, the couple inherited property near Albany, NY and established an estate where they grew wheat in their fields. Mr. Schuyler was appointed a major-general under General Washington during the Revolutionary War. In 1777 British troops, led by General Burgoyne, started moving down the Hudson Valley. It was there that they met a great deal of resistance from the inhabitants who were creating road blocks, destroying provisions and doing everything they could to make it difficult for the British. Mrs. Schuyler, acting on her husband’s orders, bravely made her way to their Albany estate to burn their profitable wheat fields, and to request that their tenants do the same in order to prevent the British troops from taking their spoils. This painting by the renowned mid-nineteenth century artist, Emanuel Leutze in his Revolutionary War series, illustrates the bravery of Catherine Schuyler’s actions.