Active military and veterans are among some of the most ardent supporters of the American Independence Museum, which features in its collection numerous items of particular interest to them.
Among these items, Curator Rachel Passannante said their military commissions tend to elicit the strongest responses.
“These commissions are essentially contracts men signed to enlist in a local army,” she said. “They are interesting artifacts and bring the Revolutionary War to life in a sense.”
While one commission on display features a name that is no longer legible, the other two provide a clear snapshot into the lives of two 18th men, Darius Willey of NH and William Lithgow, Esq. of Massachusetts.
Willey was mustered into the standard colony-run militia regiment while Lithgow entered into the Continental Army, the latter of which Passannante said was a much more prestigious group.
“The Continental Army was the first army formed by the Continental Congress,” she said. “It included men from all the colonies.”
Another interesting anecdote is the fact both men were members of Society of the Cincinnati, which was founded after the Revolutionary War by men who fought in it. As one of the nation’s oldest veteran’s organization,, the New Hampshire constituent society was founded at the museum’s Folsom Tavern in 1783.
“The Society owns a portion of our collection and the buildings on the property, so the story behind these commissions continues in a sense to this day,” said museum Executive Director Emma Bray.
In 2018, Bray said these commissions and others on display in its 3,000+ item collection may be viewed by veterans, active military and their families without an admission fee, courtesy of Chinburg Properties.
“The story of our nation’s military begins to a very real extent right here in this region of New England,” she said. “We are very grateful at the chance to invite those who continue to fight for our freedom to witness items in our collection that tell the story of the men and women who initially forged that freedom.”
Home to a world-class collection of 3,000 historic artifacts, the museum welcomes more than 5,000 visitors annually and distinguishes itself with educational school programs and events that make history fun and relevant.