Presidential Swords are a long tradition from the beginning of our country. George Washington owned several swords and carried some of them in the revolution. If you're interested in similar swords that we make please check out this previous post "Smallswords: Yep, Light and Fast" in which we examine a bunch of original swords from The Oakeshott collection and share pics of a bunch of custom smallswords we've done over the years, most of which are based on our stock smallsword, pictured below.
Washington's swords are held in the collection of arms at Mount Vernon. They range from the mid to late 18th century and include civilian smallswords, and military swords such as a broadsword, and a hanger or cuttoe.
Washington's 1753 smallsword, forged in New York and carried by the future president prior to the Revolutionary War.
A broadsword gifted to Washington in 1793 by Solingen based sword maker Theophilus Alte
A cuttoe or hanger owned by Washington during the Revolutionary War.
For more in-depth information about Washington and his swords check out this fantastic information from the Mount Vernon museum which includes parts of an interview with Dr. Eric Goldstein, author of "The Swords of George Washington", and links to high quality pics of the weapons.
Here are some similar swords we have crafted over the years.
Many of the other presidents are associated with certain swords especially those who served in the part of our history when swords were actively used. Our second president John Adams is depicted with a fancy smallsword in this standing portrait.
John Adams shown with Smallsword with circular plate guard.
Jefferson was known to prefer the pistol to sword play and while he is not associated with many particular swords personally it is certain that his response to the Barbary Pirates was the birth of the US marines use of their sword. He is also associated with Lewis & Clark's expedition and the arms they carried would have been familiar to Jefferson.
Sword of Andrew Jackson from the War of 1812
Pres Jackson's Sword from war of 1812
While a war time President Lincoln is not associated with a particular sword as his but he did almost fight a duel with calvary sabers. One suspects he was not unfamiliar with the sword as he had chose of weapons.
Ulysses Grant's sword would have been carried through out the war and even later had some unusual use but is a classic of the general officers sword of the Civil war.
Grant's Sword National Museum of American History
The use of swords by presidents definitely has decreased over the years and possibly the last to carry a sword in battle would have been Theodore Roosevelt as a Rough Rider his sword may well be the last sword carried in battle by a president.
Theodore Roosevelt's sword National Firearms Museum
Later presidents are most likely to come in contact with swords as gifts from other leaders and countries. Here is an example give to President Kennedy from King Hassan II.
We hope you have a good President's Day!
Nathan Clough, Ph.D. is Vice President of Arms and Armor and a member of the governing board of The Oakeshott Institute. He is a historical martial artist and a former university professor of cultural geography. He has given presentations on historical arms at events including Longpoint and Combatcon, and presented scholarly papers at, among others, The International Congress on Medieval Studies.
Craig Johnson is the Production Manager of Arms and Armor and Secretary of The Oakeshott Institute. He has taught and published on the history of arms, armor and western martial arts for over 30 years. He has lectured at several schools and Universities, WMAW, HEMAC, 4W, and ICMS at Kalamazoo. His experiences include iron smelting, jousting, theatrical combat instruction and choreography, historical research, European martial arts and crafting weapons and armor since 1985