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Gorgets were worn about the neck by on-duty officers during the Revolutionary War. From a distance their crescent shape was recognized as a symbol of rank, and close-up their engraved decoration often testified to their owner's regimental affiliation and patriotic fervor. This example belonged to Lieutenant Alexander Hume of the Second South Carolina Regiment. Its face is ornamented with the liberty pole, crossed flags and the arms of war above the regiment's motto: "Libertas.Portior.Vita," or "liberty is more important than life". According to legend George Washington presented the gorget to Hume who wore it for the rest of his military career.


Oval British military style gorget with an outward convex face and slightly inverted tips cut from rolled silver; engraved with: Alexander Humes' initials, 1776, and the arms and motto of the Second South Carolina Regiment; each tip bears a punched hole, beneath the left are the initials "A.H", below the right is the year "1776"; centered on the face of the gorget is a symbolic assemblage of emblems including: the tree of liberty topped with the Phrygian cap labeled "liberty", in front of which are two crossed muskets fixed with bayonets and two enfolded flags on poles, a saber horizontally bisects the group and a drum sits at the center, centered at the bottom edge is the motto "LIBERTAS.POTIOR.VITA" engraved on a ribbon; the edges of the gorget are engraved with gadrooning.


c. 1776-1779





Overall: 4 3/16 in. x 4 1/8 in. x 1 3/8 in. (10.64 cm x 10.49 cm x 3.51 cm)
Overall (including ribbon): 10 in. (25.4 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Alexander Hume Ford and Mrs. Lewis Williams, 1926
Conservation courtesy of the Life Guard Society of Historic Mount Vernon

Object Number


Colors (Beta)

Mount Vernon's object research is ongoing and information about this object is subject to change. For information on image use and reproductions, click here.
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