Thomas Chew’s Moccasins
Thomas John Chew left his post as purser aboard USS Constitution after the defeat of HMS Guerriere. As the War of 1812 continued, the United States Navy focused its effort on building and outfitting warships on the Great Lakes. In 1814, Chew was subsequently assigned to Sackett’s Harbor, New York off of Lake Ontario, where he became purser for two vessels.
Chew likely acquired this pair of plain buckskin moccasins as a souvenir while serving on the Great Lakes. Moccasin, a word derived from the Algonquian language Powhatan meaning “shoes” or “footwear,” has been generalized over time to describe a style of footwear common among many indigenous peoples of North America. These moccasins have denim tops that suggest they are not authentic.