Tag Archive | American Revolution

Object: Medallion

I-0160f
I-0160f
Medallion
American
1976
Materials: Metal, Cardboard, Paper, Plastic

This object is a commemorative medallion issued by the United States Department of the Treasury in honor of the Bicentennial of the American Revolutionary War. This is the fifth medallion issued in a series of five, for information about the other 4 medallions, please see out blog posts from March 20, March 24, March 27, and March 31, 2014. This medallion features an image of Thomas Jefferson on one side and an image of a handwritten document, representing the Declaration of Independence, with Independence Hall in the background on the other. Next to Independence Hall it reads, “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness,” which is a quote from the Declaration of Independence. Like the previous four medallions, it was issued with two information cards and another medallion inside an envelope with four commemorative stamps on it. The second medallion is made of plastic and shows the official logo of the American Revolution Bicentennial.

TrumbullTJ

Miniature portrait of Jefferson (1788) by John Trumbull. Image via Monticello.org.

Thomas Jefferson was born in 1743 in Virginia, his parents owned a great deal of land and had standing in high society. Jefferson was well educated and had studied law. He was not an orator by any means, but was a very eloquent writer. Jefferson joined the Second Continental Congress in 1775 and this is where his life-long friendship with John Adams started. It was during this Congress that Jefferson was appointed to the five-man committee that was to construct the Declaration of Independence. The committee consisted of Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston.

rotunda-visitors-l

Inside the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom. Image via archives.gov.

It was during the Second Continental Congress that a resolution for independence was introduced by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, it was seconded by John Adams, and approved by the congress. After being appointed to the committee in charge of drafting the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson spent June 12-27 writing the declaration. On June 28, 1776 a copy of Jefferson’s declaration was read  to Congress and on July 2, Congress voted in favor of independence and then made edits to the wording and phrasing of Jefferson’s declaration. On July 4, 1776 all 56 delegates in attendance signed the Declaration of Independence, in Independence Hall. Today the Declaration of Independence is on exhibit in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom in Washington, DC.

After the American Revolution ended Jefferson served in the Virginian legislature and then as governor of Virginia from 1779-1881. In 1784, Jefferson served in France, first as trade commissioner and then as Benjamin Franklin’s successor as Minister to France. In 1790 Jefferson became the first Secretary of State under George Washington. He then served as Vice President (1796-1800) under John Adams and then served as the third President of the United States for two terms (1801-1809). His term in office is best known for the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark Expedition. After the end of his second term as President, he retired to his home in Virgina, called Monticello. Jefferson was a committed supporter of literature and education. He donated his own extensive library to the government, this donation would become the foundation for the Library of Congress and he also founded the University of Virginia. On July 4, 1826, Jefferson died at Monticello a few hours before John Adams; it was the 50th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

This is the final medallion issued in the celebration of the American Revolution and was issued in 1976 which was the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. [Jennifer McPhail]

Additional Resources:
Adams, William Howard. 1983. Jefferson’s Monticello. New York: Abbeville Press.

Cunningham, Noble E. 1987. In pursuit of reason: the life of Thomas Jefferson. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press.

Fleming, Thomas J. 2003. The Louisiana Purchase. Hoboken, N.J.: J. Wiley.

Randall, Henry S. 1858. The life of Thomas Jefferson. New York: Derby & Jackson.

Wills, Garry. 1978. Inventing America: Jefferson’s Declaration of independence. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday.

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Object: Medallion

I-0160d

I-0160d
Medallion
American
1975
Materials: Metal, Cardboard, Paper, Plastic

This object is a commemorative medallion issued by the United States Department of the Treasury in honor of the Bicentennial of the American Revolutionary War. This is the fourth medallion issued in a series of five, for information about the first, second, and third medallions, please see out blog posts from March 20, March 24, and March 27, 2014. The front side of the medallion has a profile of Paul Revere and on the backside is an image of the Minuteman Statue that stands on Lexington Common. Around the edges of the back, the top reads, “Lexington – Concord” and on the bottom reads, “The Shot Heard Round The World.” The medallion was issued with two information cards and another medallion inside an envelope that had four commemorative stamps on the front. The second medallion is made of plastic and shows the official logo of the American Revolution Bicentennial.

496px-J_S_Copley_-_Paul_Revere

Portrait of Paul Revere by John Singleton Copley. 1768. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Paul Revere was born in 1734 in Boston, MA. Revere learned the art of gold and silversmithing from his father. When Paul was nineteen (and nearly finished with his apprenticeship) his father died, leaving Paul as the family’s main source of income. Two years later, in 1756, Revere volunteered to fight the French at Lake George, New York, where he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the colonial artillery. During the years prior to the Revolutionary War, Revere was a rider for the Committees of Correspondence in Boston. Committees of Correspondence were colonial groups that organized events and information needed to work against the British and their policies. Revere was also a prominent member of the “Sons of Liberty.”

Revere is most famous for his “Midnight Ride” where he warned the Colonial Minutemen that the “British were coming.” While this makes an exciting story it is an exaggeration of the real events that took place. The story was written by Henry Wadworth Longfellow and he started the legend that Revere rode to warn the colonials about the British. The actual events were less dramatic, Revere was not the only one to ride the night of April 18, 1775, William Dawes and Dr. Samuel Prescott also were riding to warn that the British were advancing. Revere was able to get to Lexington where he warned Samuel Adams and John Hancock that British troops were marching to arrest them. Dawes, Revere and Prescott then decided to ride ahead to Concord where munitions and arms were being stored. All three men were captured by the British, but Prescott was able to escape almost immediately and he was the one to finish the ride and warn Concord. Revere was released much later, but he made it back to Lexington in time to see part of the battle on the Lexington Green. Revere had 16 children and died on  May 10, 1818 at the age of 83.

800px-Minute_Man_Statue_Lexington_Massachusetts

This is a photograph of the statue representing Captain John Parker sculpted by Henry Hudson Kitson and erected in 1900. This statue in Lexington, Massachusetts is commonly called “The Lexington Minuteman.” Image via Wikimedia Commons.

The Battles of Lexington and Concord changed everything in the fight for Independence. Both battles were fought on April 19, 1775, with the first one taking place at Lexington and the second at Concord.  At dawn around 700 British troops arrived on the Lexington Green and ordered the 77 colonial militiamen to drop their weapons. The commander of the militiamen had ordered them to disperse when a shot rang out. The British fired several volleys and when order was restored there were 8 dead colonials, with 9 injured, only one British soldier dead. No one knows who fired the first shot and both sides accused the other. The British continued on to Concord to recover the munitions depot they had been informed about. When the British arrived at Concord almost all of the colonial arms and munitions had been removed and secured elsewhere. The British decided to burn what was left; the fire got slightly out of control. The Concord militiamen were watching from higher ground and they thought the British meant to burn the town, so they headed to Concord’s North Bridge. The British fired first, but when the militiamen returned fire the British started to retreat. This return of fire is known as the “Shot heard round the world” and this phrase was coined by Ralph Waldo Emerson who penned the poem “Concord Hymn.” As the British were heading back to Boston, the colonial militiamen attacked from behind trees, walls, and buildings. The British suffered only 250 casualties, while the militiamen had around 90 casualties. The image on the back of the coin is “The Lexington Minuteman” statue designed by Henry Hudson Kitson and erected in 1900.

The commemorative stamps on the front of the envelope are in honor of the 200th anniversary of the United States Armed Forces. On June 15,  1775 the Continental Congress commissioned George Washington as the “Commander in Chief” to ready the Continental militia into a fighting force that could stand against the British. Each stamp shows the typical uniform that was associated with each branch during the Revolutionary War and for sometime after.

This medallion was launched in 1975, which was the 200th anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, as well as the 200th anniversary of the Armed Forces. There were a total of five medallions issued with one medallion being issued for each year of the American Revolution. [Jennifer McPhail]

Additional Resources:
Cain, Alexander R. 2008. We stood our ground: Lexington in the first year of the American Revolution. Westminster, Md: Heritage Books.

Fischer, David Hackett. 1994. Paul Revere’s ride. New York: Oxford University Press.

Galvin, John R. 1989. The minute men: the first fight : myths & realities of the American revolution. Washington: Pergamon-Brassey’s International Defense Publisher.

Kleeb, Arlene Phillips. 1975. Lexington and Concord: rationale for independence : an exhibition commemorating the 200th anniversary of the battle. [Ann Arbor]: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan.

Tourtellot, Arthur Bernon. 1963. Lexington and Concord; the beginning of the War of the American Revolution. New York: W. W. Norton.

Object: Medallion

I-0160c
I-0160c
Medallion
American
1974
Materials: Metal, Cardboard, Paper, Plastic

This object is a commemorative medallion issued by the United States Department of the Treasury in honor of the Bicentennial of the American Revolutionary War. This is the third medallion issued in a series of five, for information about the first and second medallions, please see out blog posts from March 20 and March 24, 2014. The front side of the medallion shows a profile of John Adams and on the backside is a relief of the coastline of the United States with a man superimposed on the relief holding out a bundle of papers towards the east. Around the top edge of the coin the words “First Continental Congress” are printed and on the bottom is “For The Recovery Of Our Just Rights.” The medallion was issued with two information cards and another medallion inside an envelope that had four commemorative stamps on the front. The second medallion is made of plastic and shows the official logo of the American Revolution Bicentennial.

John Adams

John Adams. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

John Adams was a lawyer from Boston who became an important leader in the fight for independence. Adams was originally a moderate to revolutionary activities and instead based his opposition to British policies on a legal basis. He was elected to the First Continental Congress and served in each succeeding Congress until 1777. Adams was part of those who helped draft the Declaration of Rights and an address to King George III himself. During the Second Continental Congress, Adams was a partisan for complete Independence from Great Britain and served with Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin and two others on a committee to draft the Declaration of Independence. During the war Adams dealt with the problems of military administration and also with the international politics of the emerging nation.  Adams served as the second president of the United States with Jefferson as his Vice President. He died the same day as Jefferson on July 4th, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

When the First Continental Congress convened on September 5, 1774; there were 56 delegates from twelve colonies. The Congress issued two documents which were the Declaration of Rights and the personal letter to King George III. They resolved to meet in May of 1775 if Parliament failed to address the issues presented by the colonies. The backside of the coin is meant to represent the First Continental Congress as a united body represented by the man. The papers represent the Declaration of Rights and the personal letter to King George III, which were the product of the Congress. The outline of the coast of the United States only shows the original British colonies (Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Massachusetts Bay, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island and Providence Plantations).

independence hall

Independence Hall Located in Philadelphia. Image via USHistory.org

The commemorative stamps on the front of the envelope include an image of Carpenter’s Hall in the top left, a stamp with “We ask but for Peace, Liberty and Safety. First Continental Congress – 1774” printed on it in the top right, another with “Deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Declaration of Independence – 1776” in the bottom left, and an image of Independence Hall in the bottom right. Carpenter’s Hall was where the First Continental Congress met and is located in Philadelphia. Independence Hall was where the Declaration of Independence was drafted, debated, and signed. Independence Hall is also located in Philadelphia a couple of blocks away from Carpenter’s Hall.

This medallion was launched in 1974, which was the 200th anniversary of the First Continental Congress. There were a total of five medallions issued with one medallion being issued for each year of the American Revolution. [Jennifer McPhail]

Additional Resources:

Black, Jeremy. 2006. George III: America’s last king. New Haven [Conn.]: Yale University Press.

Burnett, Edmund Cody. 1964. The Continental Congress. New York: W.W. Norton.

Henderson, H. James. 1974. Party politics in the Continental Congress. New York: McGraw-Hill.

McCullough, David G. 2001. John Adams. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Object: Medallion

I-0160b

I-0160b
Medallion
American
1973
Materials: Metal, Cardboard, Paper, Plastic

Portrait Of Governor Samuel Adams

Photo via: Major John Johnston, Wikimedia Commons

This object is a commemorative medallion issued by the United States Department of the Treasury in honor of the Bicentennial of the American Revolutionary War. This is the second medallion issued in a series of five, for information about the first medallion, please see out blog post from March 20, 2014. The front side of the medallion shows a profile of Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry, while on the other side there is an image of a man on horseback speaking to two individuals. Around the edge on the backside it reads “Committees of Correspondence to Unite the Colonies.” The medallion was issued with two information cards and another medallion inside an envelope that had four commemorative stamps on the front. The second medallion is made of plastic and shows the official logo of the American Revolution Bicentennial.

496px-Patrick_henry

Photo via: George Bagby Matthews, Wikimedia Commons

Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry were both important in the protest movement that was going on in the American Colonies during 1773. Adams was a leader of the “Sons of Liberty” as well as a leader of the Committees of Correspondence. Henry was also a member of the Committees of Correspondence, as well as a statesman from Virginia. Both Adams and Henry were great orators (public speakers) and both delivered many public addresses to encourage and show their support for Independence from Britain. One of the most famous speeches is Henry’s “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech which he delivered on March 23, 1775 at St. John’s Church in Richmond Virginia. Below is a video narration of the speech.

The Committees of Correspondence was created in March of 1773 and was a way for those who believed in independence to inform each other and the populace as to what the British policies were. The first meeting was held in Boston in November of 1772 and was formed by Samuel Adams and others. The meeting in 1773 took place in the Virginia House of Burgesses and had such members as Thomas Jefferson and Richard Henry Lee. It was also a way for the populace to organize against the British. By 1774 all but two colonies had such committees operating. These committees were instrumental in paving the way for Independence from the British.

800px-Boston_Tea_Party-Cooper

Photo via: W.D. Cooper, Wikimedia Commons

The four commemorative stamps that are on the front of the envelope are in honor of The Boston Tea Party which took place on December 13, 1773. During the early part of 1773 the British passed the Tea Act which was another taxation that the patriots feared would make colonial governors less accountable to the legislators.  The patriots dressed as Native Americans, went on board the ships at night, and broke open the tea chests on board the ships and dumped it into the bay. There were several such tea parties held on down the coast, but  the one in Boston is the most famous of these as it was the first.

This medallion was launched in 1973, which was the 200th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. There were a total of five medallions issued with one medallion being issued for each year of the American Revolution. [Jennifer McPhail]

Additional Resources:
Butler, Jon. 2000. Becoming America: the revolution before 1776. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

Stoll, Ira. 2008. Samuel Adams: a life. New York: Free Press.

Unger, Harlow G. 2011. American tempest: how the Boston Tea Party sparked a revolution. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press.

 Unger, Harlow G. 2010. Lion of liberty: Patrick Henry and the call to a new nation. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press.

Object: Medallion

I-0160e (2)
I-0160e
Medallion
American
1972
Materials: Metal, Cardboard, Ink, Paper, Plastic

This object is a commemorative medallion issued by the United States Department of the Treasury in honor of the Bicentennial of the American Revolutionary War. The front side of the medallion shows a profile of George Washington and the other side shows an image of the “Liberty Tree.” The medallion was issued with two information cards and another medallion inside an envelope that had four commemorative stamps on the front. The second medallion is made of plastic and shows the official logo of the American Revolution Bicentennial.

wash_front_sm

Statue of Washington created by Houdon. Image via History.org

The profile of George Washington shown on the medallion is based off of a statue that was erected in Richmond, Virginia on May 14, 1796. The statue was sculpted by Jean Antoine Houdon. Houdon was a very accomplished sculptor from France who also created sculpted busts of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. Houdon made a life cast of Washington’s head, neck, and shoulders; these were the only life casts ever made of Washington. The casts were used to create the statue of Washington and were also used as a reference to design the profile of Washington for this medallion.

800px-Sons_of_Liberty

Collage of Sons of Liberty members via: Wikimedia Commons

On the reverse side of the medallion is an image of of a tree with “Sons of Liberty” above it and a small emblem on either side of the trunk of the tree. The tree is a representation of the Liberty Tree which was a symbol used by the “Sons of Liberty.” The Sons of Liberty was an anti-British political group formed during the Stamp Act crisis in 1765. The Stamp Act was one of the British Parliament‘s first attempts to assert authority over the American Colonies. It was a tax that was designed to help the British raise funds to help pay off their national debt after The Seven Years’ War, also known as the French and Indian War (1754-1763) in the United States. The Sons consisted of shop owners and artisans who were affected by the Stamp Act and who decided to retaliate against it. There was a Sons of Liberty group in every colony by the beginning of the Revolutionary War. The emblem on the left side of the tree on the medallion is the stamp representing the tax of two-shilling and six-pence. On the right side is a flag with the slogan “Join or Die” which was first used during the French and Indian War to suggest that if the colonies did not fight they would be destroyed by the French. When the slogan started being used during the Revolutionary War it was meant that if the colonies did not join together and fight the British they would never be able to gain their independence.

There are four stamps on the front of the envelope and each one has a different craftsman on it. Many of these craftsmen would likely have been members of the Sons of Liberty. The four that are shown on this envelope are the Glass Blower, the Hatter,  the Wigmaker, and the Silversmith.

Below is a short demonstration video of how silversmithing would have been done during colonial times.

This medallion was launched in 1972, the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the American Revolution. There were a total of five medallion issued with one medallion being issued for each year of the American Revolution. [Jennifer McPhail]

Additional Resources:

Anderson, Fred. The War That Made America: A Short History of the French and Indian War. New York: Viking, 2005.

Chernow, Ron. Washington: A Life. New York: Penguin Press, 2010.

Hart, Charles Henry, and Edward Biddle. Memoirs of the Life and Works of Jean Antoine Houdon, The Sculptor of Voltaire and of Washington. Philadelphia: Printed for the authors, 1911.

Morgan, Edmund S., and Helen M. Morgan. The Stamp Act Crisis; Prologue to Revolution. Chapel Hill: Published for the Institute of Early American History and Culture at Williamsburg, Va. by the University of North Carolina Press, 1953.

Walsh, Richard. Charleston’s Sons of Liberty: A Study of the Artisans, 1763-1789. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1959.

Object: Brooch

2012_3_1 front

2012.3.1 a
Brooch
American
ca. late 18th century
Materials: Metal, Gemstone

This item is a brooch that was purchased by John King (1758-1842) and then passed down from granddaughter-to-granddaughter until it was given to the donor. The brooch is made of a dark gray colored metal, that may have been gold plated originally, and there are 23 reddish-purple colored square gemstones set into the front of the brooch that are believed to be amethysts. The clasp on the back of the brooch is a single straight pin on a hinge, but there is no longer a latch to place the pin in.

John King fought in the American Revolutionary War from 1777-1780 and served as a member of George Washington’s Commander-in-Chief Guard, also known as Washington’s Life Guard. King is listed in the “Muster Roll Returns” which is the most comprehensive list of those who served in the guard. The guard was formed by Washington on March 11, 1776 when he realized that his army was about to become mobile and he would need a guard to protect himself and the headquarters staff. Washington sent out a General Order detailing the type of men he needed to form this guard. He wanted four men sent from each regiment, excepting the artillery and riflemen; these men were to be of good character, sober, well-made and clean. He even described the height he wanted these men to be, which was between five foot, eight inches and five foot, ten inches tall. He also included in this order that if the men selected were not willing to be in his guard then they were not to be sent and another should be selected.

The Commander-in-Chief Guard Uniform Image created by Tim Reese

The Commander-in-Chief Guard Uniform
Image created by Tim Reese

Captain Caleb Gibbs was selected by General Washington to command the new unit. Gibbs was promoted to the rank of Major, and was given the title Captain Commandant. Gibbs’s task was to organize the new unite and to get them ready for their mission, which was to protect Washington, his staff, the army’s cash and official papers. Washington’s nephew Lieutenant George Lewis was a member of Gibbs’s immediate staff of officers. Not only was Gibbs to organize them but he was to procure the unit a uniform. Washington wanted his guard to match him with a blue and beige uniform, but Washington said any color would be fine except for red. In the end the uniform consisted of a blue and beige uniform with a red waistcoat (they were the only ones available) and helmets that were actually British Dragoon helmets that had been captured by a privateer. The helmets had a blue turban added to them and a white plume that was tipped royal blue. A white cockade, known as the French Alliance cockade, was added to the helmet as well. The red waistcoat and the unique helmet set the guard apart from the rest of the Army which was Gibbs’s goal.

These men not only served their role as guards, but they were considered an elite unit in the Army. This is because they were Baron Frederick von Steuben’s demonstration unit for the new American Drill. Once these men were trained, they then trained the other regiments of the Army that was camped at Valley Forge. Once the Army left Valley Forge, the Guard was frequently employed in the role of light infantry and were attached to larger military units for engagements. Each time the Guard distinguished themselves as an elite force and their reputation grew. When the War came to a close, the guard was furloughed after completing one final mission, which was to escort Washington’s personal belongings and records back to his home of Mount Vernon on December 20, 1783.

The following video shows a modern United States Army drill team performing a routine.

Sadly most the records about these guardsmen were lost in1815 when the Charlestown Navy Yard caught fire which was where Gibbs had stored them after his retirement. Tomorrow marks the 238th anniversary of the formation of Washington’s Commander-in-Chief Guard. [Jennifer McPhail]

Additional Resources:

Chernow, Ron. 2010. Washington: a life. New York: Penguin Press.

Fremont-Barnes, Gregory, Richard Alan Ryerson, James R. Arnold, and Roberta Wiener. 2006. The encyclopedia of the American Revolutionary War: a political, social, and military history. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO.

Godfrey, Carlos E. 1972. The Commander-in-Chief’s Guard, Revolutionary War. Baltimore: Geneal. Pub. Co.

Irving, Washington, Allen Guttmann, and James A. Sappenfield. 1982. Life of George Washington. Boston: Twayne Publishers.

Lossing, Benson John. 1972. The pictorial field-book of the revolution or, Illustrations, by pen and pencil, of the history, biography, scenery, relics, and traditions of the war for independence. New York: Harper & Bros.

Wright, Robert K. 1983. The Continental Army. Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History, U.S. Army.


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