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Legacies: Collecting America's History at the Smithsonian, by Steven Lubar and Kathleen M. Kendrick
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Fire bucket, about 1830Fire bucket, about 1830

The first national hero, George Washington became a powerful and popular icon of American identity. The Latin slogan on this fire bucket—Veni, vidi, vici (I came, I saw, I conquered)—evokes the Roman leader Julius Caesar, with whom Washington was often compared. Lacking a lengthy history of their own, early Americans often used classical symbols to represent the new nation and its political ideals. The Smithsonian added this fire bucket to its American folk art collection in 1955.

See also: Flags, Folk Art, Presidential Memorabilia

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