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Betsy Bucklin's Sampler

Schoolgirl patriot

Betsy Bucklin (1768–1799) was 13 years old when she stitched this patriotic verse into her sampler that evokes America’s zeal to fight the British, and then celebrates female support for the Revolution: “Women would scorn / To be defyd if led by / WASHINGTON.” We don’t know whether Betsy or her teacher wrote the verse, but it illustrated her family’s pro-independence fervor. Most girls learned to do “plain sewing” as soon as they were old enough to hold a needle; a sampler displayed more refined skills which required the money and social position to pay for special lessons and purchase expensive silk threads. 

Betsy Bucklin's Sampler

slideshow with 3 slides
date made
Bucklin, Betsy
Betsey’s sampler includes three distinguishing features of Rhode Island samplers; trumpeting angels with embroidered faces, queen stitch flowers, and a three-story house. Below the house, flanking flowers and birds is the verse:
“While hof[s]tile foes
our coaf[s]ts Invade
in all the pomp of
war arrayd Ameri
cans be not dismayd
nor fear the f[s]word
or GUn

While Innocence is
all our pride and vir
tue is our only Guide
Women would f[s]corn
to be defyd if led by
This verse on Betsy’s sampler offers a rare opportunity to discover the political thinking of a young girl during the Revolutionary War. She is showing a brave female defiance of Britain and an unwavering faith in George Washington, the commander of the Continental Army. Betsy undoubtedly was influenced by her father who was a privateer during the Revolutionary War. At the bottom of the sampler, flanked by queen stitch flowers, is a cartouche with the inscription:

Bucklin Her
Work Septe
It is not known who the author of the inscriptions is. The sampler is stitched with silk embroidery thread on a linen ground with a thread count of warp 25, weft 23/in. The stitches used are cross, crosslet, queen, rice, straight, fly, stem, tent, and gobelin.
Betsy [Elizabeth] Bucklin was born on September 20, 1768, in Providence, Rhode Island to Capt. Daniel and Eliza Carpenter Bucklin. On November 11, 1792, Betsy married Samuel Eddy. They had three children - Martha, Jonathan, and Elizabeth. She died of consumption on October 27, 1799, in Providence, Rhode Island.
Currently not on view
place made
United States: Rhode Island, Providence
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Home and Community Life: Textiles
Data Source
National Museum of American History
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Object Name
Physical Description
linen (ground material)
silk (thread material)
overall: 16 3/32 in x 12 1/2 in; 40.894 cm x 31.75 cm
Record ID
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