Columbia (name)

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Personified Columbia in American flag gown and Phrygian cap, which signifies freedom and the pursuit of liberty, from a World War I patriotic poster ColumbiaStahrArtwork.jpg
Personified Columbia in American flag gown and Phrygian cap, which signifies freedom and the pursuit of liberty, from a World War I patriotic poster

Columbia ( /kəˈlʌmbiə/ ; kə-LUM-bee-ə) is the female personification of the United States. It was also a historical name used to describe the Americas and the New World. It has given rise to the names of many persons, places, objects, institutions and companies; for example: Columbia University, the District of Columbia (the national capital of the United States), and the ship Columbia Rediviva , which would give its name to the Columbia River. Images of the Statue of Liberty largely displaced personified Columbia as the female symbol of the United States by around 1920, although Lady Liberty was seen as an aspect of Columbia. [1] The District of Columbia is named after the personification, as is the traditional patriotic hymn "Hail Columbia", which is the official vice presidential anthem of the United States Vice President.

Personification An anthropomorphic metaphor in which a thing or abstraction is represented as a person

Personification is an anthropomorphic metaphor in which a thing or abstraction is represented as a person. The type of personification discussed here excludes passing literary effects such as "Shadows hold their breath", and covers cases where a personification appears as a character in literature, or a human figure in art. The technical term for this, since ancient Greece, is prosopopoeia. In the arts many things are commonly personified. These include numerous types of places, especially cities, countries and the four continents, elements of the natural world such as the months or Four Seasons, Four Elements, Four Winds, Five Senses, and abstractions such as virtues, especially the four cardinal virtues and sins, the nine Muses, or death.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or simply America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe. Most of the country is located in central North America between Canada and Mexico. With an estimated population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City.

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Columbia is a New Latin toponym in use since the 1730s for the Thirteen Colonies. It originated from the name of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus and from the ending -ia, common in Latin names of countries (paralleling Britannia, Gallia, and others).

New Latin Form of the Latin language between c. 1375 and c. 1900

New Latin was a revival in the use of Latin in original, scholarly, and scientific works between c. 1375 and c. 1900. Modern scholarly and technical nomenclature, such as in zoological and botanical taxonomy and international scientific vocabulary, draws extensively from New Latin vocabulary. In such use, New Latin is subject to new word formation. As a language for full expression in prose or poetry, however, it is often distinguished from its successor, Contemporary Latin.

Toponymy or toponomastics is the study of place names (toponyms), their origins, meanings, use and typology.

Thirteen Colonies British American colonies which became the United States

The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen American Colonies, were a group of colonies of Great Britain on the Atlantic coast of America founded in the 17th and 18th centuries which declared independence in 1776 and formed the United States of America. The Thirteen Colonies had very similar political, constitutional, and legal systems and were dominated by Protestant English-speakers. They were part of Britain's possessions in the New World, which also included colonies in Canada, Florida, and the Caribbean.

History

Personification of the Americas in Meissen porcelain, c. 1760, from a set of the Four Continents. The Four Continents (America), Johann Joachim Kaendler and assistants, Meissen Porcelain Factory, c. 1760, hard-paste porcelain - Wadsworth Atheneum - Hartford, CT - DSC05373.jpg
Personification of the Americas in Meissen porcelain, c. 1760, from a set of the Four Continents.
A defiant Columbia in an 1871 Thomas Nast cartoon shown protecting a defenseless Chinese man from an angry Irish lynch mob that has just burned down an orphanage The Chinese Question (February 1871), by Thomas Nast.png
A defiant Columbia in an 1871 Thomas Nast cartoon shown protecting a defenseless Chinese man from an angry Irish lynch mob that has just burned down an orphanage
This 1872 painting titled American Progress depicts Columbia as the Spirit of the Frontier, carrying telegraph lines across the Western frontier to fulfill manifest destiny American Progress (John Gast painting).jpg
This 1872 painting titled American Progress depicts Columbia as the Spirit of the Frontier, carrying telegraph lines across the Western frontier to fulfill manifest destiny
Columbia wearing a warship bearing the words "World Power" as her "Easter bonnet" (cover of Puck, April 6, 1901) Puck cover2.jpg
Columbia wearing a warship bearing the words "World Power" as her "Easter bonnet" (cover of Puck , April 6, 1901)

Early

The earliest type of personification of the Americas, seen in European art from the 16th century onwards, reflected the tropical regions in South and Central America from which the earliest travellers reported back. These were most often used in sets of female personifications of the Four Continents. America was depicted as a woman who, like Africa, was only partly dressed, typically in bright feathers, which invariably formed her headress. She often held a parrot, was seated on a caiman or alligator, with a cornucopia. Sometimes a severed head was a further attribute, or in prints scenes of cannibalism were seen in the background. [2]

Personification of the Americas Early European personifications of the Americas

Early European personifications of America, meaning the Americas, typically come from sets of the Four Continents, all that were then known in Europe. These were: Europe, Asia, Africa, and America. The addition of America made these an even more attractive group to represent visually, as sets of four could be placed around all sorts of four-sided objects, or in pairs along the facade of a building with a central doorway.

Caiman Subfamily of reptiles

A caiman is a crocodilian alligatorid belonging to the subfamily Caimaninae, one of two primary lineages within Alligatoridae, the other being alligators.

Cornucopia Mythological symbol of abundance, also called the horn of plenty

In classical antiquity, the cornucopia, also called the horn of plenty, was a symbol of abundance and nourishment, commonly a large horn-shaped container overflowing with produce, flowers or nuts.

18th century

Though versions of this depiction, tending as time went on to soften the rather savage image into an "Indian princess" type, and in churches emphasizing conversion to Christianity, served European artists well enough, by the 18th century they were becoming rejected by settlers in North America, who wanted figures representing themselves rather than the Native Americans they were often in conflict with. [3]

Indigenous peoples of the Americas Pre-Columbian inhabitants of North, Central and South America and their descendants

The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian peoples of North, Central and South America and their descendants.

Massachusetts Chief Justice Samuel Sewall used the name Columbina (not Columbia) for the New World in 1697. [4] The name Columbia for America first appeared in 1738 [5] [6] in the weekly publication of the debates of the British Parliament in Edward Cave's The Gentleman's Magazine . Publication of Parliamentary debates was technically illegal, so the debates were issued under the thin disguise of Reports of the Debates of the Senate of Lilliput and fictitious names were used for most individuals and placenames found in the record. Most of these were transparent anagrams or similar distortions of the real names and some few were taken directly from Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels while a few others were classical or neoclassical in style. Such were Ierne for Ireland, Iberia for Spain, Noveborac for New York (from Eboracum, the Roman name for York) and Columbia for America—at the time used in the sense of "European colonies in the New World". [7]

Samuel Sewall Salem witch trial judge; early abolitionist; chief justice of Massachusetts

Samuel Sewall was a judge, businessman, and printer in the Province of Massachusetts Bay, best known for his involvement in the Salem witch trials, for which he later apologized, and his essay The Selling of Joseph (1700), which criticized slavery. He served for many years as the chief justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court of Judicature, the province's high court.

Edward Cave British publisher

Edward Cave was an English printer, editor and publisher. He coined the term "magazine" for a periodical, founding The Gentleman's Magazine in 1731, and was the first publisher to successfully fashion a wide-ranging publication.

<i>The Gentlemans Magazine</i> London periodical

The Gentleman's Magazine was a monthly magazine founded in London, England, by Edward Cave in January 1731. It ran uninterrupted for almost 200 years, until 1922. It was the first to use the term magazine for a periodical. Samuel Johnson's first regular employment as a writer was with The Gentleman's Magazine.

Columbia in an 1865 Thomas Nast cartoon asking the government to allow black soldiers to vote And Not This Man%3F (August 1865), by Thomas Nast.jpg
Columbia in an 1865 Thomas Nast cartoon asking the government to allow black soldiers to vote

By the time of the Revolution, the name Columbia had lost the comic overtone of its Lilliputian origins and had become established as an alternative, or poetic name for America. While the name America is necessarily scanned with four syllables, according to 18th-century rules of English versification Columbia was normally scanned with three, which is often more metrically convenient. For instance, the name appears in a collection of complimentary poems written by Harvard graduates in 1761 on the occasion of the marriage and coronation of King George III. [8]

American Revolution Revolt in which the Thirteen Colonies won independence from Great Britain

The American Revolution was a colonial revolt which occurred between 1765 and 1783. The American Patriots in the Thirteen Colonies defeated the British in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) with the assistance of France, winning independence from Great Britain and establishing the United States of America.

Behold, Britannia! in thy favour'd Isle;
At distance, thou, Columbia! view thy Prince,
For ancestors renowned, for virtues more; [9]

The name Columbia rapidly came to be applied to a variety of items reflecting American identity. A ship built in Massachusetts in 1773 received the name Columbia Rediviva and it later became famous as an exploring ship and lent its name to new Columbias.

Columbia and an early rendition of Uncle Sam in an 1869 Thomas Nast cartoon having Thanksgiving dinner with a diverse group of immigrants Uncle Sam's Thanksgiving Dinner (November 1869), by Thomas Nast.jpg
Columbia and an early rendition of Uncle Sam in an 1869 Thomas Nast cartoon having Thanksgiving dinner with a diverse group of immigrants

After Independence

No serious consideration was given to using the name Columbia as an official name for the independent United States,[ citation needed ] but with independence the name became popular and was given to many counties, townships, and towns as well as other institutions.

Carte de visite (c. 1866) featuring a woman dressed as Columbia and a man dressed as a Revolutionary War general Beautiful goddess of liberty, Star Spangled Banner, etc.jpg
Carte de visite (c. 1866) featuring a woman dressed as Columbia and a man dressed as a Revolutionary War general
Columbia (representing the American people) reaches out to oppressed Cuba with blindfolded Uncle Sam in background (Judge, February 6, 1897; cartoon by Grant E. Hamilton) Judge-2-6-1897.jpg
Columbia (representing the American people) reaches out to oppressed Cuba with blindfolded Uncle Sam in background ( Judge , February 6, 1897; cartoon by Grant E. Hamilton)

In part, the more frequent usage of the name Columbia reflected a rising American neoclassicism, exemplified in the tendency to use Roman terms and symbols. The selection of the eagle as the national bird, the heraldric use of the eagle, the use of the term Senate to describe the upper house of Congress and the naming of Capitol Hill and the Capitol building were all conscious evocations of Roman precedents.

The adjective Columbian has been used to mean "of or from the United States of America", for instance in the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition held in Chicago, Illinois. It has occasionally been proposed as an alternative word for American.

Columbian should not be confused with the adjective pre-Columbian, referring to a time period before the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492.

Personification

Personification of Columbia from a Columbia Records phonograph cylinder package ColumbiaHerselfSmall.jpg
Personification of Columbia from a Columbia Records phonograph cylinder package

As a quasi-mythical figure, Columbia first appears in the poetry of African-American Phillis Wheatley starting in 1776 during the revolutionary war.

One century scarce perform'd its destined round,
When Gallic powers Columbia's fury found;
And so may you, whoever dares disgrace
The land of freedom's heaven-defended race!
Fix'd are the eyes of nations on the scales,
For in their hopes Columbia's arm prevails.<ref> Selections from Phillis Wheatley Poems and Letters Archived 2006-09-08 at Archive.today </ref>

Especially in the 19th century, Columbia was visualized as a goddess-like female national personification of the United States and of liberty itself, comparable to the British Britannia, the Italian Italia Turrita and the French Marianne, often seen in political cartoons of the 19th and early 20th century. This personification was sometimes called Lady Columbia or Miss Columbia. Such iconography usually personified America in the form of an Indian queen or Native American princess. [12]

Columbia at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific StatuePacificCemetery.png
Columbia at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific

The image of the personified Columbia was never fixed, but she was most often presented as a woman between youth and middle age, wearing classically-draped garments decorated with stars and stripes. A popular version gave her a red-and-white-striped dress and a blue blouse, shawl, or sash, spangled with white stars. Her headdress varied and sometimes it included feathers reminiscent of a Native American headdress while other times it was a laurel wreath, but most often it was a cap of liberty.

Lady Columbia recognized World War I Doughboy soldier as having suffered injury due to his willingness to serve humanity WWI early Purple Heart issue.jpg
Lady Columbia recognized World War I Doughboy soldier as having suffered injury due to his willingness to serve humanity

Early in World War I (1914–1918) the image of Columbia standing over a kneeling "Doughboy" was issued in lieu of the Purple Heart Medal. She gave "to her son the accolade of the new chivalry of humanity" for injuries sustained in "the" World War.

Columbia Calls - Enlist Now for U.S. Army, World War I recruitment poster by Vincent Aderente Columbia Calls - Enlist Now for U.S. Army - Halsted - Aderente.jpg
Columbia Calls – Enlist Now for U.S. Army, World War I recruitment poster by Vincent Aderente

In World War I, the name Liberty Bond for savings bonds was heavily publicized, often with images from the Statue of Liberty. The personification of Columbia fell out of use and she was largely replaced by the Statue of Liberty as a feminine symbol of the United States. [13] When Columbia Pictures adopted Columbia as its logo in 1924, she appeared (and still appears) bearing a torch—similar to the Statue of Liberty and unlike 19th-century depictions of Columbia.

Statues of the personified Columbia may be found among others in the following places.

Modern appearances

Political cartoon from 1860 depicting Stephen A. Douglas receiving a spanking from Columbia as Uncle Sam looks on approvingly Spanking Douglas.jpg
Political cartoon from 1860 depicting Stephen A. Douglas receiving a spanking from Columbia as Uncle Sam looks on approvingly

Since 1800, the name Columbia has been used for a wide variety of items.

See also

Notes

  1. Donald Dewey (2007). The Art of Ill Will: The Story of American Political Cartoons. New York University Press. p. 13. ISBN   9780814719855.
  2. Le Corbellier, 210–218; Higham, 45–52
  3. Higham, 55–57
  4. Thomas J. Schlereth, "Columbia, Columbus, and Columbianism" in The Journal of American History, v. 79, no. 3 (1992), 939
  5. The Gentleman's Magazine, Vol. 8, June 1738, p. 285
  6. Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Dec. 1885, pp. 159–65
  7. Debates in Parliament, Samuel Johnson.
  8. Hoyt, Albert. "The Name 'Columbia'", The New England Historical & Genealogical Register, July 1886, pp. 310–13.
  9. Pietas et Gratulatio Collegii Cantabrigiensis apud Novanglos, no. xxix. Boston, Green and Russell, 1761.
  10. Kennedy, Robert C. (November 2001). "Uncle Sam's Thanksgiving Dinner, Artist: Thomas Nast". On This Day: HarpWeek. The New York Times Company. Archived from the original on November 23, 2001. Retrieved November 23, 2001.
  11. Walfred, Michele (July 2014). "Uncle Sam's Thanksgiving Dinner: Two Coasts, Two Perspectives". Thomas Nast Cartoons. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved March 5, 2016.
  12. "Origins: The Female Form as Allegory".
  13. David E. Nye (1996). American Technological Sublime. MIT Press. p. 266. ISBN   9780262640343.
  14. "Hail Columbia". Hail Columbia. Retrieved February 2, 2013.
  15. Literata (2011). "Columbia". The Order of the White Moon Goddess Gallery. Archived from the original on October 24, 2012. Retrieved February 2, 2013.
  16. Hatchett, Charles (1802), "Outline of the Properties and Habitudes of the Metallic Substance, lately discovered by Charles Hatchett, Esq. and by him denominated Columbium", Journal of Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, and the Arts , I (January): 32–34.
  17. Nicholson, William, ed. (1809), The British Encyclopedia: Or, Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, Comprising an Accurate and Popular View of the Present Improved State of Human Knowledge, 2, Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme, p. 284.
  18. Bernard F. Dick. The Merchant Prince of Poverty Row: Harry Cohn of Columbia Pictures. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 40–42.

Related Research Articles

Columbia may refer to:

Libertas Roman Goddess of Liberty

Libertas is the Roman goddess and personification of liberty. She became a politicised figure in the Late Republic, featured on coins supporting the populares faction, and later those of the assassins of Julius Caesar. Nonetheless, she sometimes appears on coins from the imperial period, such as Galba's "Freedom of the People" coins during his short reign after the death of Nero. She is usually portrayed with two accoutrements: the rod and the soft pileus, which she holds out, rather than wears.

Britannia national personification of Britain

Britannia has been used in several different senses, but is best known as a national personification of the United Kingdom. The name is a Latinisation of the native Brittonic word for the island, Pretanī, which also produced the Greek form Prettanike or Brettaniai, which originally, in the fourth to the first centuries BC, designated a collection of islands with individual names, including Albion or Britain. In Modern Welsh the name remains Prydain. By the 1st century BC, Britannia came to be used for Great Britain specifically. After the Roman conquest in 43 AD, Britannia meant Roman Britain, a province covering the island south of Caledonia. When Roman Britain was divided into four provinces in 197 AD, two were called Britannia Superior and Britannia Inferior. Britannia is the name given to the female personification of the island, and it is a term still used to refer to the whole island.

Charles Hatchett British chemist

Charles Hatchett FRS FRSE was a British chemist who discovered the element niobium.

Phrygian cap soft conical cap with the top pulled forward

The Phrygian cap or liberty cap is a soft conical cap with the apex bent over, associated in antiquity with several peoples in Eastern Europe and Anatolia, including Phrygia, Dacia, and the Balkans. During the French Revolution it came to signify freedom and the pursuit of liberty, although Phrygian caps did not originally function as liberty caps. The original cap of liberty was the Roman pileus, the felt cap of manumitted (emancipated) slaves of ancient Rome, which was an attribute of Libertas, the Roman goddess of liberty. In the 16th century, the Roman iconography of liberty was revived in emblem books and numismatic handbooks where the figure of Libertas is usually depicted with a pileus. The most extensive use of a headgear as a symbol of freedom in the first two centuries after the revival of the Roman iconography was made in the Netherlands, where the cap of liberty was adopted in the form of a contemporary hat. In the 18th century, the traditional liberty cap was widely used in English prints and from 1789 on in French prints, too; but it was not until the early 1790s, that the French cap of liberty was regularly used in the Phrygian form.

Marianne national emblem of France

Marianne has been the national personification of the French Republic since the French Revolution, as a personification of liberty, equality, fraternity and reason, and a portrayal of the Goddess of Liberty.

Liberty (personification) The personification of the concept of Liberty

The concept of liberty has frequently been represented by personifications, often loosely shown as a female classical goddess. Examples include Marianne, the national personification of the French Republic and its values of Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité, the female Liberty portrayed on United States coins for well over a century, and many others. These descend from images on ancient Roman coins of the Roman goddess Libertas and from various developments from the Renaissance onwards. The Dutch Maiden was among the first, re-introducing the cap of liberty on a liberty pole featured in many types of image, though not using the Phrygian cap style that became conventional.

Liberty pole tall wooden pole surmounted by a Phrygian cap

A liberty pole is a wooden pole, or sometimes spear or lance, surmounted by a "cap of liberty", mostly of the Phrygian cap form outside the Netherlands. The symbol originated in the immediate aftermath of the assassination of the Roman dictator Julius Caesar by a group of Rome's Senators in 44 BC. Immediately after Caesar was killed the assassins, or Liberatores as they called themselves, went through the streets with their bloody weapons held up, one carrying a pileus carried on the tip of a spear. This symbolized that the Roman people had been freed from the rule of Caesar, which the assassins claimed had become a tyranny because it overstepped the authority of the Senate and thus betrayed the Republic.

Hail, Columbia patriotic song, United States of America

"Hail, Columbia" is an U.S. patriotic song that is the ceremonial entrance march of the Vice President of the United States.

National personification fictional character used to represent a country and its people.

A national personification is an anthropomorphic personification of a nation or its people. It may appear in political cartoons and propaganda. As a personification it cannot be a real person, of the Father of the Nation type, or one from ancient history who is believed to have been real.

Dutch Maiden female personification of the Netherlands

The Dutch Maiden is a national personification of the Netherlands. She is typically depicted wearing a Roman garment and with a lion, the Leo Belgicus, by her side. In addition to the symbol of a national maiden, there were also symbolic provincial maidens and town maidens.

Uncle Sam personification of the United States and its government

Uncle Sam is a common national personification of the U.S. federal government or the country in general that, according to legend, came into use during the War of 1812 and was supposedly named for Samuel Wilson. The actual origin is by a legend. Since the early 19th century, Uncle Sam has been a popular symbol of the US government in American culture and a manifestation of patriotic emotion. While the figure of Uncle Sam represents specifically the government, Columbia represents the United States as a nation.

Lady Justice Personification of justice

Lady Justice is an allegorical personification of the moral force in judicial systems. Her attributes are a blindfold, a balance, and a sword. She often appears as a pair with Prudentia, who holds a mirror and a snake.

National symbols of France are emblems of the French nation, and are the cornerstone of the republican tradition.

Lady of Hungaria National personification of Hungary

Hungaria is a national personification of Hungary, an allegory and a personification of the nation.

References