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This essay considers the life and work of Moses Williams (1777 – ca. 1825) within the historical context of the early republic, and by discussing the profile-making process itself, it attempts to answer important questions about how race and social status could be communicated within the limited visual rhetoric of the cut-paper profile. It argues that the silhouette Moses Williams, Cutter of Profiles may in fact be a self-portrait of Williams and that the artist's other profile portraits of Native Americans evidence similar issues around the visual manifestation of racial and ethnic difference.

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