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We are seeking funds to conserve several of the most important national treasures in our collection, including items owned and used by General George Washington, Patrick Henry, and other members of the Founding generation. Once conserved, these items will be displayed in special exhibitions, and, eventually, in the new museum. A few examples of items in immediate need of conservation are noted below.
Lieutenant-Colonel George Wilson's Sword
This American-made short saber passed down through the family of Scottish immigrant George Wilson (1729- 1777) who was appointed Lieutenant Colonel of the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment on July 20, 1776. Wilson’s regiment was recruited in western Pennsylvania during the summer and fall of 1776, and performed a harrowing march across the Allegheny Mountains in December of that year to reinforce General Washington’s army in New Jersey. The sword’s silver-mounted scabbard bears the inscription “G Wilson 1777,” suggesting that Wilson acquired this sword in eastern Pennsylvania shortly before his death in February 1777. At a later date, descendents added the commemorative inscription “Sword of Col. George Wilson at Trenton Christmas 1776.”
A Volume from George Washington's Library
Revolutionary War veteran and financier James Swan presented this copy of his 1786 pamphlet, National Arithmetic or, Observations on the finances of the commonwealth of Massachusetts, to George Washington on January 27, 1787, following a visit to Mount Vernon. The Scottish-born Swan, who had settled in Boston in 1765, was a member of the Sons of Liberty and a veteran of the Boston Tea Party (1773) and the Battle of Bunker Hill (1775). National Arithmetic included observations on taxation and public policy, Swan informed Washington in the letter that accompanied the work, “which will apply to all the states.” Advocating a stronger federal union on the eve of the Constitutional Convention that Washington would soon travel to Philadelphia to preside over, this presentation copy of National Arithmetic is a national treasure that powerfully links the American Revolution, George Washington and the United States Constitution.
The American Revolution Center’s rich collection of items associated with George Washington includes a set of camp cups made by Philadelphia silversmith Edmund Milne in August 1777, prior to the opening of the military campaign that led to the British occupation of Philadelphia and the Valley Forge encampment. Each cup bears the commemorative inscription “Camp Cup/ owned and used by/ General Washington/ during/ war of the Revolution” together with a monogram “W” for Washington. Such camp cups were used during the American Revolution to serve wine and other refreshment to officers and guests at the general’s table.
The Center owns five early 18th century English law books that are listed in Patrick Henry’s 1799 estate inventory. Three volumes still bear Henry’s printed bookplate. Several were owned by other prominent Virginians before Henry acquired them, presumably in the early 1760s when he was studying and practicing law. Among these previous owners was Batholomew Dandridge, whose older sister Martha Dandridge (Custis) married George Washington in January 1759. These rare volumes were acquired in 1910 at a sale of Henry family heirlooms in Philadelphia.