William Swift’s Cocked Hat
This silk plush collapsible cocked hat, also known as a chapeau bras, belonged to Surgeon William Swift. The hat, typical of those worn by naval officers, is adorned on either side with brown silk brocade bows, and a brass button at the bottom depicting a eagle perched atop on anchor.
Swift, a graduate of Harvard Medical School, entered the United States Navy as a volunteer in 1812 and was aboard USS Chesapeake when it was captured by the British frigate HMS Shannon. Following his release, Swift was commissioned a surgeon’s mate in 1813 and then surgeon in 1814. He served aboard USS Syren, USS Ontario, and USS Constellation.