Teakettle, 1807-1809

Despite its small size, this tiny copper teakettle addressed weighty issues of international trade in early America.  The artisan who made this kettle never intended it for tea.  Rather it advertised his skills as a coppersmith and made a political statement about President Thomas Jefferson’s embargo act. The embargo – intended to force Britain and France to recognize American neutrality during the Napoleonic Wars – brought hardship to many American artisans and merchants who could no longer import or export goods. The teakettle, however, reminded viewers that “prudence is the best remedy for hard times” and to “mind your business.” These statements promoted the common good realized through self-sufficiency and careful business practice.



Other objects in the merchant marketplace…