Tokens of thanks from a grateful nation – medals, silver, plaques, and swords.
Americans, including those New Englanders who were against the war with Great Britain, followed the outcomes of the various naval engagements with interest. The newspapers heralded every new victory, and citizens toasted, feted, and entertained the victors wherever they went. Patriotic citizens and state legislatures vied with each other to shower naval officers with emblems of their regard. From the best painters, engravers and metal workers they commissioned a steady stream of medals, swords, silver services, portraits, and other valuable commemorative pieces to celebrate the heroic deeds and valor of these men. They spared no expense. A fabulous silver urn manufactured by the Philadelphia firm of Fletcher and Gardner cost a whopping $2300 at a time when an ordinary seaman made $10 per month. The federal government, too, voted large sums of prize money and medals for the officers and crews.
Because these presentation pieces were so fine, so expensive, and so personal, they were cherished by the awardees and their descendants. Today, the USS Constitution Museum boasts a sizable collection of these artifacts ranging from Congressional silver and gold medals, presentation swords, cased pistols, sterling table ware and gilt snuff boxes- all associated with USS Constitution‘s most famous victories.