Disagreements over decisions made in Washington are not new. President Thomas Jefferson imposed a series of laws to restrict the sale of both raw materials and products to Britain and France in the hope that “peaceful coercion” would force the two nations, engaged in the Napoleonic Wars, to respect U.S. neutrality. Instead, the embargo deeply divided the United States in the years leading to the War of 1812. The sentiments expressed on this teakettle seem to encourage Americans to work hard and keep faith in Jefferson’s policies.
Yesterday, we added a few new artifacts to the American Stories exhibition. The new rotation includes jeans designed and patented by merchant Levi Strauss and tailor Jacob Davis. Another highlight is a wedding dress from 1945 made of the parachute that saved the life of U.S. Army radio operator Temple Leslie Bourland when he bailed out of a plane over Germany during World War II. His bride's resourceful aunt recycled the parachute into a wedding dress, simply cutting around the bullet holes. A bright red addition to the exhibition is Madeleine Albright's red suit, which she wore when she was nominated to be the first female secretary of state, becoming the highest ranking woman in the history of the U.S. government at the time. A miniature teakettle from around 1807 is also on display, which carries a message to encourage Americans to work hard and keep faith in President Thomas Jefferson's policies. A pitcher decorated with scenes from Uncle Tom's Cabin dates from around 1853.