“First Built Line of Battle Ship Ship in the Western World”

Plate Engraving Printed on Cotton

Great Britain, Possibly Glasgow or America

Circa 1815

25” x 21”



Commentary:  This kerchief commemorates the signing of the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812, and the commissioning of the American battleship, USS Independence.  Along with the dramatic image of the Independence at sea firing her cannons, the text delineates the ship’s armaments, crew composition and the number of prizes taken “1056 HUZZAH”.  The lower scrolling banner repeats one of the war’s principal rallying cries proclaiming ‘Neutral Trade and Freedom of the Seas ~ Health & Success to Our Brave Tars.”


Only a single other example of this kerchief has been located in the collection of the New York Historical Society which was recorded in Threads of History, No. 43.


The USS Independence was built at the Boston Navy Yard and commissioned in July 1815.  She was the first commissioned ship-of-the-line and served as flagship of the Mediterranean Squadron (1815) and Home Squadron (1815-1822).   The battleship’s design is thought to have been done by Edmund Hartt but proved unsatisfactory.   The ship was well built but when fully loaded the lower gun ports proved too close to the waterline to be utilized effectively.  The Independence was converted to a 54 gun configuration in 1836 and continued in service in both the Atlantic and Pacific as flagship of various squadrons until 1857.

Initials  MP stitched in the right hand border – presumably those of  the original owner.


Exhibited: 2014  Colonial Dames of America, Dumbarton House, Georgetown, District of Columbia


Condition:  Small tear in the fabric with minor loss.  Overall condition and color are excellent.

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