Schoolroom Gallery

Macculloch Hall Historical Museum mounts temporary exhibitions every three months drawn from the Museum’s collection of eighteenth and nineteenth century American and English decorative and fine art.

Anchors Aweigh: Macculloch Hall and U.S. Naval History
February-mid-July 2019

Includes children’s exhibition, Don’t Give Up the Ship!

The Navy has played a significant role in the Macculloch family’s history.

A grandson of George and Louisa Macculloch, Henry William Miller (1836-1904), a graduate of the Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1853, served on the USS Mohican at the battle of Port Royal and participated in the blockade of Charleston, South Carolina during the Civil War. He resigned from the Navy in 1866 with the rank of lieutenant commander.

Henry’s younger brother, Jacob William Miller (1847-1918), graduated the Naval Academy in 1867. As a lieutenant, he was sent to Nicaragua to explore a possible canal route, and in 1877 he served on the USS Vandalia where he was assigned to escort President Grant and his wife on their tour of the Mediterranean. He later helped found the New York State Naval Reserve and became its commodore.

After purchasing Macculloch Hall in 1949, W. Parsons Todd (1877-1976) added many items related to the Navy to its collection. This interest may have sparked by the memory of his uncle, Henry Davis Todd (1838-1907), who graduated the Naval Academy with Henry William Miller and served with him on the USS Minnesota during its cruise to China.

This naval tradition is part of Morristown’s history. In a speech given by Jacob William Miller at Macculloch Hall for the first meeting of the Admiral Radford Section of the Navy League in 1906, he declared that “if a circle of less than one mile were described around the place we are now sitting, it would embrace the homes, or former residences, of over 40 naval offices who have lived among us.”

Now Showing in our Thomas Nast Gallery

Illustrating an Icon: Thomas Nast’s Uncle Sam
February-mid-July 2019

Thomas Nast (1840-1902) is credited with popularizing the image of Uncle Sam. Decades before James Montgomery Flagg (1877-1960) created the “I Want You” image of Uncle Sam for United States Army recruiting posters in 1917, Nast had drawn this iconic symbol of the United States more than 160 times for Harper’s Weekly.

Like his Democratic Donkey and Republican Elephant, Nast’s Uncle Sam is adapted from earlier examples. In the late eighteenth and through the nineteenth centuries, Americans identified with “everyman” characters known as Brother Jonathan and Yankee Doodle. Brother Jonathan was depicted typically as portly and wearing a brown homespun suit, while Yankee Doodle wore stars and stripes.

During the War of 1812, government supplies marked “U.S.” were nicknamed Uncle Sam. Sam Wilson, a meatpacker from Troy, New York known locally as “Uncle Sam,” sold beef to the Army. Wilson’s supplies were also stamped “U.S.,” which is how, according to popular legend, he became the original Uncle Sam. There is evidence, however, that Uncle Sam “lived” before Wilson. In a journal at the U.S.S Constitution Museum in Charlestown, Massachusetts, Uncle Sam is mention in an entry dating to 1810, two years before Wilson began selling his wares to the Army.

Nast portrayed Uncle Sam as a tall, gaunt Lincolnesque figure with a wispy beard, top hat, striped trousers and boots. Occasionally, Nast’s image of Uncle Sam was used to convey a negative aspect of government.