Today I’m visiting the Museum of the American Revolution. With visits to such sites as Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell on my itinerary here in Philadelphia. I need to get caught up on my Revolutionary history.
Located just a few blocks from the Independence historic sites, the Museum makes for a great education on the causes and fight for American independence. Let’s walk through some of the exhibits.
The fight for Independence started like most good fights, over money.
The colonists started to grumble, then they started to organize. First, it was the Sons of Liberty meeting wherever they could, like under a “Liberty Tree” in Boston. It was there that they planned the Boston Tea Party. Many other towns had their own meeting trees, such as this one from Annapolis Maryland.
The revolution really starte with the cry against “taxation without representation.” The Stamp Act forces the colonists to buy paper products from London, with stamped proof (as shown below). This is because the British government needs to keep Military officers from the French and Indian War well paid. Their high-up connections in the British Parliament would be upset if suddenly there was no need for them (and there was not).
John Adams said, “Revenue is still demanded from America, and appropriated to the maintenance of swarms of officers and pensioners in idleness and luxury.”
These taxes can not be paid in Colonial monies, they need to use British tender. That causes more problems.
These days, with Confederate statues finally getting torn down, it’s poignant to see this exhibit of the King George III statue’s demise.
These original statue fragments are all that’s left of the King’s statue. It is said that most of him was melted down, turned into musket balls, and shot back at the British.
Today’s wars employ drones, missiles, and bombs. Not so during these times. Through many interactive exhibits, the Museum of the American Revolution takes visitors into the action at ground-level.
At the Battle of Bunker Hill, Officer William Prescott said “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes.” This war is close-quartered, dirty, tiring combat over 8 long years. Disease killed more men than combat.
The museum shows off an incredible array of weapons, uniforms, and personal effects.
I’m glad they identify the owner of the object. The museum could have easily left that out, but it made me feel a little more into these items than I would be otherwise.
Especially when you look at something like this powder horn. Belonging to Concord, Massachusetts blacksmith Samuel Jones, who served in the town’s militia during the battle at Concord’s North Bridge, the horn bares it’s owner’s intricate carvings.
Other artifacts from everyday life during these colonial times are on display.
One exhibit focuses on the contributions (and difficulties) of Native Americans during the war. This is a white-washed representation, but I appreciate the effort.
As a graphic designer and marketer, it is thrilling to see design on display. Just as a new company has to create branding, logos, advertisements – so does a new country.
These exhibits show how design can rally the colonists to the cause.
Another exhibit shows the design process of Great Seal of the United States. It’s funny to see how the designs change from one committee to the next. Ultimately it took three committees to arrive at the design we know today.
Charles Thomson, secretary of the Continental Congress, came up with the final design using elements from previous design rounds.
Of course, no symbol is as important as the American flag. A number of early examples are on display, such as these two.
On the left is the Monmouth Flag, which dates to 1775. Many flags of this period include the Union Jack because the colonists still consider themselves to be British.
On the right is the Forster Flag. This flag used to have a Union Jack at the top left, but once the Declaration of Independence came along, this flag’s owners took off the Union Jack and repurposed the white fabric to make stripes instead.
Hamilton is hot right now, thanks to the Broadway play. Naturally, there is a big display about the life and times of Alex here at the Museum of the American Revolution, too.
There’s a lot to see here! The building is 118,000 sq. feet, so there’s a lot of ground to cover. To buy tickets ahead of time, visit their website. They are hosting a great virtual tour on their website, too.