Euskal Itsas Museoa

The pursuit of happiness. The basque contribution to independence of the USA


From March 8 to September 30, 2018

With this exhibition the Naval Museum aims to uncover an episode in our maritime history which remains virtually unknown: the collaboration offered from the Basque Country to the Thirteen British Colonies of North America in the fight against Great Britain to achieve independence in 1776.

The colonists enjoyed the support of different European nations. In this context, arms, ammunition, uniforms and technical aid were supplied from Basque ports, mainly that of Bilbao, using trade and smuggling routes that the Basque traders had already established with traders in the British colonies. This fact was a deciding factor in the triumph of the cause of independence.

Thus, a series of factors which were concentrated in our territory –the Real Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas’s line of business, close links between Basque and American traders and the existence of a production sector specialising in the manufacture of goods which were of strategic value for the war (arms and naval construction)– facilitated, together with a favourable customs framework, the establishment of an intense and vital relationship in the outcome of the War of Independence.

It is worth highlighting the relevance and protagonism in this support network of the Real Fábrica de Armas de Placencia and the Real Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas, suppliers of many of the war resources required for this international conflict.

In the exhibition you can see various objects, models, weapons, documents and plenty of vintage graphic material, both original and reproductions. Some of these objects belong to the collection of the Museum (Gordailua), and others come from individuals and various institutions such as Koldo Mitxelena Kulturunea, Aquarium, San Telmo Museum, Museum of the Armero Industry of Eibar, City of Hondarribia and Association Hermione, between others We thank all of them for their collaboration.

Free guided tours of the exhibition will be offered, aimed at the general public, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, in business days: at 5:00 p.m. in Euskara and at 6:00 p.m. in Spanish. Without prior reservation,until full capacity.

Visit of l'Hermione in May at the Maritime Festival of Pasaia

This cultural project of the Naval Museum helps to contextualise the visit by the replica of the frigate L’Hermione which will take place within the framework of the Pasaia Maritime Festival on 17th and 18th May 2018. Aboard L'Hermione in 1780 the Marquis de Lafayette made his second voyage to the United States to join the American insurgents in their fight for independence, in the pursuit of happiness.

“The secret to happiness is freedom... and the secret to freedom is courage”. Thucydides 




The pursuit of happiness. The Basque contribution to the independence of the USA

Untzi Museoa-Museo Naval, Donostia-San Sebastian, 2018, 63 p., il.



Tuesday to Saturday:
10:00 - 14:00 and 16:00 - 19:00

Sundays and public holidays:
11:00 - 14:00
16.00 - 19.00 (from 15th of june to 15th of september)

December 24 and 31:
10:00 - 14:00

Closed on Mondays. Closed January 1, 6 and 20, and December 25.

Ticket prices, groups, how to arrive...