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Clock, Paris France, c. 1800
Maker: Jean-Baptiste Dubuc (1743-1819)
Medium: Ormolu, a high-carat gold-mercury amalgam adhered to an object of bronze
Gift of Ethel Miller in 1941

This week I have chosen a clock with a timeless design featuring America’s founding father, George Washington. Washington was well aware of the consequences an unseen enemy like an epidemic created within society. At nineteen he had contracted smallpox while on a trip to Barbados in 1751. His resulting immunity proved useful when he later commanded the Continental Army. The American colonies saw relatively few cases of smallpox until the Revolutionary War when the influx of British and German soldiers brought the disease. After taking command of the army in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in summer 1775, Washington created a separate hospital for smallpox and assured the Continental Congress he would “continue the utmost vigilance against this most dangerous enemy.” Epidemics broke out in Boston and Philadelphia in 1776; as a result Washington later ordered his entire army be inoculated upon enlistment. His actions likely saved many in his army. So, as we look at this clock and admire Washington, we can remember that our current chapter in American history shall pass too, and we can look for guidance in our past.

fig 5 George Washington Clock. Hammond-Harwood House Collection F33. Photo courtesy of Web Wright.


By Rachel Lovett, Curator

Hammond-Harwood House

The mission of the Hammond-Harwood House Association is to preserve and to interpret the architecturally significant Hammond-Harwood House Museum and its collection of fine and decorative arts, and to explore the diverse social history associated with its occupants, both free and enslaved, for the purposes of education and appreciation.
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