Bucks of America flag
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[ This description is from the project: Revolutionary-era Art and Artifacts ]
This flag was probably made in Boston, Massachusetts, and was presented to a local militia company known as the “Bucks of America” sometime around the close of the American Revolution. This hand sewn flag is made of white and blue silk in an unbalanced plain weave. The flag's blue canton is inset from the reverse and contains thirteen stars painted on both sides. The central painted image is of a bounding stag beneath a pine tree. There is a large cartouche with “The Bucks of America” and smaller cartouche at the top of the image containing the initials “J-G-W-H.” painted in gold.
About the Bucks of America
The Bucks of America, an all-Black Militia company, may have operated in a quasi-military capacity in Massachusetts during the American Revolution. Very little is known about their service and they do not appear in any official military records. The unit was recognized in a ceremony near the end of the Revolutionary War in which Governor John Hancock presented this silk flag. The significance of the initials “J.G.W.H.” that are painted on the flag remains unclear. In The Liberator, 12 March 1858, Theodore Parker interpreted them as abbreviations of the names of John Hancock and George Washington - "[t]hus John Hancock embraces George Washington" - but it is more likely that they are the initials of John George Washington Hancock (1778-1787), the young son of Governor John Hancock, who may have been the unit’s “mascot”. (In The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution, historian William C. Nell wrote that the governor and his son presented the banner to the Bucks of America.)