Commemorative Pitcher, Preble v. Tripoli
Commemorative items, such as this creamware pitcher, were produced to celebrate the victory of Commodore Edward Preble during the first battle of the war. Engaging in both hand-to-hand combat and exchange of fire from ships, three gunboats were captured and three others were sunk. Only fourteen Americans had been wounded or killed in comparison to more than a 100 reported Tripoline casualties. Constitution, despite being fired upon for nearly two hours, suffered very little damage since the Tripoline forces were firing too high.
The inscription on the pitcher lists the number and type of ships in Preble’s squadron and boasts about the gunboats taken as prizes and the “great number” of enemy forces killed. Adorned with the Great Seal featuring a bald eagle, this pitcher evokes patriotism and a deep sense of American pride, despite the irony that this pitcher was made by British potters in Liverpool due to a lack of industrialization needed to support American-made ceramics.
Until he was relieved as Commodore, Preble presided over a squadron consisting of Constitution (44 gun), Syren (16), Argus (16), Scourge (14), Vixen (12), Nautilus (12), and Enterprise (12). A small force for a daunting task, Preble led the squadron in several attacks on Tripoli’s defenses that made a significant impression on the Pascha, all while suffering from ulcers and braving the fickle winds and adverse currents. For his service, Preble received a gold medal from Congress once he arrived home in 1805.