A jewel-encrusted medal owned and worn by George Washington is going on display in Philadelphia for the first time since it was presented to Washington in the city 233 years ago.
The Diamond Eagle is the badge of office of the president general of the Society of the Cincinnati. The organization was founded by officers of the Continental Army at the end of the Revolutionary War to preserve the revolution's memory.
The Eagle was presented to Washington in 1784 by officers of the French Navy and designed by military engineer Pierre L'Enfant. It was fashioned in gold and silver and embedded with nearly 200 diamonds, emeralds and rubies.
"We couldn’t be more delighted to see the Diamond Eagle make its return to Philadelphia," Jack Warren, Jr., executive director of the Society of the Cincinnati, said. "The Diamond Eagle embodies the idea that the American Revolution is an event of transcendent importance in world history. Remembering the Revolution is a charge that is passed down from one citizen of our republic to the next, just as the Diamond Eagle has been passed down for more than 200 years."
"Cincinnati" was taken from the Roman general Cincinnatus, who relinquished dictatorial powers after saving the Roman republic from invasion, the museum said in a news release.
"The Diamond Eagle epitomizes the idea of Washington as the 'American Cincinnatus,' the ultimate citizen-solider who put the good of the nation ahead of his own and returned his power back to the people," museum president and CEO Michael Quinn said. "It is fitting for us to present it alongside Washington’s War Tent, which signifies Washington’s selfless devotion to the cause of the Revolution and his tireless support of his soldiers."
The museum took on extra security measures including a specially-designed, high-security case for the priceless artifact. The Diamond Eagle will be on view, adjacent to Washington's War Tent theater, at the Museum of the American Revolution from Wednesday to March 3.
The museum also recently added a new watercolor painting by L'Enfant, which depicts the Continental Army's encampment at Verplanck's Point, New York, in 1782. The exhibit, entitled Among His Troops: Washington's War Tent in a Newly Discovered Watercolor, will be open from Jan. 13 to Feb. 19.