(National Portrait Gallery, London)
At the age of twelve, George III of Great Britain inherited one of the world’s most powerful empires. He likewise led this empire through some of the very first global and massive conflicts: the Seven Years’ War, the American Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, and the War of 1812. As the rebellious spirit grew, George III became the symbol of tyranny and oppression among colonials, with American patriots blaming him for the oppressive acts being levied upon them. In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson vilified George III and argued that it was his neglect and misuse of the American colonies which justified their revolution and separation from Great Britain. On the heels of Cornwallis’ surrender at Yorktown, George III authorized peace negotiations which produced the Treaty of Paris in 1783.