William White.GilbertStuart.1795.PA Acad Fine Arts.1029

Gilbert Stuart, 1795: William White, Bishop of Pennsylvania and first Presiding Bishop. After the defeat of the British in the American Revolution, the Church of England in the former colonies was in ruins; most of the clergy fled to Canada or England and only a handful were left, concentrated in Philadelphia, the new nation’s first capital. White rallied the few Episcopalians, modeled a fully American Church on the new U.S. Constitution, and served as a civic leader in his city, state and the national government. If he hadn’t been a strong patriot, he could never have pulled it off; instead of failing, he supplied the United States with its own national church. TEC retains a remnant of that historic role to this day. (Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts)

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