Wilkes & Liberty No. 45 Cufflink
Stone and Ink
This just may be the smallest artifact in the Old Barracks’ collection!
Thought to be an insert for a cufflink, this artifact is evidence of someone at the Trenton Barracks expressing their personal political views in a subtle but recognizable way to the people around them.
Archeologists from Hunter Research, while searching for physical evidence of the 18th century wooden fence surrounding the Old Barracks, discovered the tiny artifact in 1995. The “Wilkes & Liberty” refers to John Wilkes, a British politician who actively spoke out in support of free speech and independence for the American colonies. The “No. 45” is in reference to issue 45 of the periodical The North Briton, published on April 23, 1763, where Wilkes criticized the policies of King George III and was subsequently jailed because of it. Uproar resulted, with crowds taking up the chant “Wilkes & Liberty No. 45!”. Ben Franklin, then in London, wrote that he saw the number “45” painted on house doors not only in London but also continuing for miles outside the city.