Benjamin Franklin's Walking Stick

Benjamin Franklin's Walking Stick

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A French admirer presented this gold-capped walking stick to Benjamin Franklin while he was serving as ambassador to France. Franklin later bequeathed the cane to his friend and fellow revolutionary George Washington.
A celebrated writer, inventor, scientist, and advocate for U.S. independence, Franklin rose from humble beginnings to become one of the most famous Americans of the 18th century. Through advice and example, Franklin helped define the American ideal of self-improvement through virtue and hard work.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
Washington, George
Franklin, Benjamin
Physical Description
gold (head material)
gold (label material)
wood (walking stick material)
overall: 46 1/2 in x 1 3/8 in; 118.11 cm x 3.4925 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
U.S. Department of State
See more items in
Political and Military History: Political History, General History Collection
Government, Politics, and Reform
National Treasures exhibit
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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Mr. Franklin wrote in his last will and testament, "My fine crab-tree walking stick, with a gold head curiously wrought in the form of the cap of liberty, I give to my friend, and the friend of mankind, General Washington. If it were a Scepter, he has merited it, and would become it. It was a present to me from that excellent woman, Madame de Forbach, the dowager Duchess of Deux-Ponts, connected with some verses which should go with it".
I, Jeffery Mark Washington, direct descendant of Charles, would just like to say... Thanks for keeping it safe. I have no idea why it wasn't kept in the family.. the only thing I can think of is... nobody wanted to use it. : ) ~ JMW on behalf of the Kanawha County, WV Washingtons
I found this page after first coming across a story about the walking stick in the March 1, 1843 edition of the Carlisle PA "Carlisle Weekly Herald". According to the article, it was donated to the U.S. Government in 1843 along with Washington's service sword by Samuel Washington: "Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled. That the thanks of this Congress be presented to Samuel T. Washington, of Kanawha county, Virginia, for the present of the Sword used by his illustrious relative, GEORGE WASHINGTON, in the military career of his early youth in the seven year's war and throughout the war of the National Independence, and of the staff bqueathed by the patriot, statement, and sage, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, to the same leader of the armies of Freedom in the Revolutionary War, George Washington; that these precious relics are hereby accepted in the name of the Nation; that they be deposited for safe keeping in the Department of State of the United States, and that a copy of these resolutions, signed by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, be transmitted to the said Samuel T. Washington."
Your description: "A French admirer" is a travesty. In fact, she (the admirer) was the mother of the left most French officer (commanding officer, Regiment Royal Deux-Ponts) in Turnbull's "victory at Yorktown" painting in the rotunda of the U.S. capitol. And it was her second son who personally led the French attack on redoubt No. 9 at Yorktown. Obviously, she had some very serious "skin in the game" of the American Revolutionary War. No wonder George Washington valued and held onto this memento bequeathed to him by Ben Franklin. Madame de Forbach, the dowager duchess of Deux-Ponts [Zweibrucken/Pfalz, Germany, in present day geographical parlance] was a memorable and energetic supporter of the American independence cause.
"Once bequeathed to George Washington, what did Washington do with the Walkingstick upon his death and how did it end up in your possession?"
Genl. Washington's 1799 Will left the walking stick to his brother Charles. Charles, however, died a few weeks before the General did, so he obviously never took possession.

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