Based upon German folk tales with which Washington Irving became familiar on his many visits to Europe, "Rip van Winkle" is set in Colonial America and post-colonial times, shortly after the U.S. Constitution has been written. For, he describes the resplendent Kaatskill (Catskill) Mountains "clothed in blue and purple that rise above the majestic Hudson River.
- That Irving's narrative is set during the Colonial Period within twenty years of the American Revolution is first evinced in the mention of a "rubicund portrait of his majesty George the Third." This portrait hangs at an inn where Rip van Winkle sits on a bench on lazy summer days. (paragraph 9)
- After Rip awakens from his twenty-year sleep, he returns to the village inn only to find that the painting of King George has "metmorphosed" to a man with a sword, blue coat, and cocked hat. Under the head is printed "General Washington." The indication here is that the American Revolution has taken place while Rip has slept. (paragraph 30)
- Rip is disturbed by the fellow with handbills who "harangues vehementsly about "rights of citizens--elections--members of Congress and other words that confuse van Winkle. Evidently, the new government of the United States of America has been formed. (paragraphy 31)
- When Rip declares himself a loyal subject of the King, he is met with shout of "A Tory! A Tory! a spy! a Refugee," so the revolution must have just occurred. (paragraph 33)