Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Christine Sears

Committee Member

John F. Kvach

Committee Member

Molly W. Johnson


Women--United States--History--18th century., Nationalism--United States., Idols and images.


"Invoking America: Representation, Revolution, and Republican Motherhood in Eighteenth-Century American Iconography" explores the use of early American female allegories and their role in republican ideology. By mapping out the history of western female allegories, I argue the founding generation consciously chose to represent America as female rather than male. The personifications of Liberty in the Revolution and Columbia in the early republic served not only as abstract figures of America, but also as tangible, universal maternal figures of the new nation and its people. Columbia came to be the "Mother of the Republic" and the ideal Republican Mother by 1786. Contemporary poems, songs, letters, and speeches confirm Liberty's and Columbia's maternal roles. Frequent appeals to the sons and daughters of Liberty and Columbia demanded Americans to act virtuously, fight for liberty and freedom, and to honor their duties as good citizens of the republic. The nation's earliest allegories continued a two-thousand year old tradition of feminine representations, while creating something new with Columbia, the embodiment of a nation's ideological beliefs in one symbol.



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