Colyer’s humanitarian pursuits placed him amidst two significant nineteenth century events – the Civil War and the subsequent westward expansion under the doctrine of “Manifest Destiny”. Colyer’s efforts to give voice to those who had none included care for former slaves, and illuminating the plight of displaced Native Americans. His paintings of the Connecticut shore reflect the peace he enjoyed on Contentment Island with his wife and his good friend John F. Kensett, but his legacy lies in the hundreds of small watercolors that he did out west.
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