A MERICA'S pioneer pairiters were not necessarily heroic — and not always great, but they left a lively and living record of the genuine heroes and great events that led to the Republic's birth 181 years ago this week.

Among the masterpieces of the era is the portrait by Ralph Earl*of Connecticut's Roger Sherman (opposite), once a shoemaker, later a lawyer, and the only founding father to sign four historic documents of American independence: the Association of 1774, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution. Earl sat the awkward, clearheaded patriot in a Windsor chair as foursquare and unyielding...

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