In the years following the Stamp Act of 1765, in the American colonies, anti-British feeling was reaching a fever pitch. Around that time, the residents of Brunswick Town, South Carolina, were drinking and smoking and, presumably, getting a little rowdy in their neighborhood tavern. Among them were radicals—colonists who refused to pay the stamp tax, and even forbade their governor from ponying up when he offered to do so for everyone. The entire town had become a hotbed of anti-crown sentiment.

How and when it happened is a mystery, but that tavern went up in flames within a few years, locking surviving bottles, pipes, a wasp’s nest, and colonial memorabilia in time. Now, a new discovery among those remains, a 250-year-old cufflink, shows just how openly those colonists were defying the monarchy. They were—literally—wearing their feelings on their sleeves.

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