News & Updates
Now on View: Commodore John Barry's Revolutionary War SwordSeptember 13, 2023
Commodore John Barry’s Revolutionary War sword, which was displayed in the Oval Office during John F. Kennedy’s presidency, is now on display at the Museum.
On loan to the Museum from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, the sword has returned to Philadelphia for the first time since 1939. The sword, which was unveiled at the Museum on Commodore Barry Day, Sept. 13, is on view beside the Museum’s recreated privateer sloop in the McCausland Foundation gallery that explores the “War at Sea” through July 2024.
Considered a “Father of the U.S. Navy,” Barry was born in County Wexford, Ireland, and immigrated to Philadelphia where he served with distinction as an officer in the Continental Navy during the Revolutionary War. In April 1776, near the Virginia Capes, Barry oversaw the first capture of a British ship by the young Continental Navy. In 1794, he was given the first captain’s commission in the newly established United States Navy. Barry’s Revolutionary War sword is represented in the statue of him that stands outside of Independence Hall, which the Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick presented to the City of Philadelphia in 1907. Barry, who did not have children, passed the sword down to his nephew, and it remained in the family until 1939.
President Kennedy’s decision to display Barry’s sword in the Oval Office from 1961-1963 stemmed from his own naval service during World War II and his Irish ancestry. County Wexford, where John Barry was born, is also the ancestral home of President Kennedy.
In the News
"Revolutionary War sword of Commodore John Barry is coming to Museum of the American Revolution"
"Commodore John Barry’s sword returning to Philadelphia for the first time in more than 80 years"
"Irish American Revolutionary War hero's sword to go on display in Philly"
"Sword belonging to Irish hero of American Revolutionary War goes on public display"
The Irish Echo
"Barry Sword Returns to Philadelphia"