What was the pin Nancy Pelosi was wearing during the State of the Union Address? It was a mace. So what is a mace? Way back when people weren’t the kind, thoughtful human beings we are today (!), men – and maybe women – settled their disagreements by clubbing each other over the head with sticks. This worked, but couldn’t there be something better? As in doing more damage?
What if you attached a rock to the end of your club? That was a great idea, but it wasn’t that easy to do. Vines were pretty slippery and when you went to hit someone over the head, your rock might just fly off the handle. [Aha – so that’s where that saying comes from!] Humans being what we are, the problem was overcome in various ways, including splitting the end of the club and wedging the rock into the opening.
This new good weapon needed a name. Let’s call it a mace. As the millennia passed, maces became more and more sophisticated. Wood became iron, spikes and other nasty objects were added. They even became works of art –Kings has ceremonial ones called scepters. Eventually, Englishmen (and later women) tried to settle their differences in Parliament. But what if things got out of hand? Well, have a mace handy!
And so the mace became the symbolic power of Parliament. And when the United States came into being, the House of Representatives adopted the mace as its symbol of power in 1789. The original mace was destroyed in the War of 1812, when the British attacked Washington and set it on fire.
The current mace was made in 1842 by silversmith William Adams. It is made of silver, is 46 inches long and has 13 ebony bars representing the 13 original states. The ball is silver, topped by a large silver eagle.
Nancy Pelosi’s pin is a miniature of the mace. And who better to wear it than Pelosi, the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives? When she was elected to her first term, 2007-2011, the house that represents the people had been led by men for a solid 218 years.