November 07, 2019

Museum Acquires Sea Chest of John Claypoole, Husband of Betsy Ross

Just in time for Veterans Day, the wooden sea chest of Revolutionary War veteran John Claypoole, third husband of the famed Betsy Ross, the seamstress and upholsterer who was long-celebrated as the creator of the American flag, is now on display at the Museum of the American Revolution. The Museum acquired the chest from a descendant of Ross and Claypoole. The chest is now installed in the Museum’s “War at Sea” gallery and will remain on permanent display.

“This chest presents a rare opportunity to show a compelling artifact of Betsy Ross’s life and that of her husband,” said Dr. Philip Mead, Chief Historian and Director of Curatorial Affairs for the Museum. “It certainly witnessed her family’s struggle and adjustment to post-war American life and the ups and downs of American economic opportunity in the 1790s, and perhaps even the dramatic events of his Revolutionary War service.”

John Claypoole was born in 1752 to an artisan and merchant family of Philadelphia. He was an early supporter of the American Revolution. While Betsy Ross was supplying upholstery to the Continental Congress and flags to the American navy, Claypoole served as a Lieutenant in the Pennsylvania Regiment of Colonel Jehu Eyre. After fighting through the Philadelphia Campaign of 1777, he returned home for three years, and then in late 1780 he joined the American privateer ship Luzerne bound for Port L’Orient on the west coast of France. In 1781, his ship was captured off the coast of Ireland by the British ship Enterprise, and Claypoole become a prisoner of war, first in Ireland and then at the notorious Old Mill Prison in Plymouth England. John Claypoole died in the summer of 1817 after a marriage of over 30 years to Elizabeth “Betsy Ross” Claypoole.

 The wood chest has typical features of those that early American sailors brought on their adventures: canted sides that make the bottom wider than the top for stability, board feet to raise the bottom off a watery deck, and handles on the sides to hold loops of rope for easier carrying. The top of this chest is carved in an 18th-century font, “John Claypoole June 1792.”

Starting on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, visitors are invited to join an educator aboard the Museum's replica privateer sloop to explore the contents of a replica sea chest like the one used by Claypoole. Check here for a full of list of activities happening at the Museum over Veterans Day Weekend.

About Museum of the American Revolution
The Museum of the American Revolution explores the dramatic, surprising story of the American Revolution through its unmatched collection of Revolutionary-era weapons, personal items, documents, and works of art. Immersive galleries, powerful theater experiences, and digital touchscreens bring to life the diverse array of people who created a new nation against incredible odds. Visitors gain a deeper appreciation for how this nation came to be and feel inspired to consider their role in the ongoing promise of the American Revolution. Located just steps away from Independence Hall, the Museum serves as a portal to the region’s many Revolutionary sites, sparking interest, providing context, and encouraging exploration. The Museum, which opened on April 19, 2017, is a private, non-profit, and non-partisan organization. For more information, visit www.AmRevMuseum.org or call 877.740.1776.