Connecticut’s John Trumbull may be best known for his painting The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776. Despite its precise title, what Trumbull created by 1819 (and repeated twice again by 1832) was a carefully crafted record of an event that did not take place exactly as or when he portrayed it. In this painting there are meticulous portraits of 42 of the 56 delegates who would eventually sign a revised version of the declaration, but the initial presentation to Congress of a draft of the Declaration of Independence took place on June 28 (not July 4) and was far more sparsely attended. Trumbull worked hard to represent the spirit and personnel of the event, if not all the other specifics.
Even forgiving Trumbull’s casual regard for some of the details of the event, there was more amiss than just that.