Highlights from the History of Needham in 100 objects
George Washington Kerchief
Artist - Creator:
John Hewson
Block-printed cotton, red ink
Block-printed cotton kerchief

"George Washington, Esq. Foundator and Protector of America's Liberty and Independency." The word "Independency" and the absence of the Stars and Stripes show that this kerchief was made sometime between the Declaration of Independence in July 1776 and the adoption of the Flag in June 1777. It was made by John Hewson of Philadelphia at the request of Martha Washington, to strengthen Washington's authority as military commander. It is considered to be the first piece of American political propaganda.

The kerchiefs were given as gifts to friends and supporters, and after the Revolutionary War they were passed down as treasured souvenirs of the Commander's friendship and regard. This one was passed down through the family of Colonel William McIntosh.

The damage to the textile was caused by deterioration resulting from the caustic dyes. Because only a few kerchiefs were made, and because of their fragile nature, only five are now known to exist, including this one - two at the Winterthur Museum in Delaware, one at the New-York Historical Society, one in a private collection, and this one.

Passed down through the family of Colonel William McIntosh, who served under Washington during the Revolutionary War.
Colonel William McIntosh
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Washington KerchiefWashington Kerchief