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Peace Medals

Moritz Furst1817

The James Monroe Museum

The James Monroe Museum

Peace medals were tokens given to Native American leaders who signed treaties or met with the president of the United States. The practice began in the administration of Thomas Jefferson in 1801, and continued until the term of President Benjamin Harrison ended in 1893. On the left, a bronze peace medal bears a portrait of James Monroe on the obverse inside the words "JAMES MONROE PRESIDENT OF THE U.S. A.D. 1817." At right, the reverse of a silver version shows the clasped hands of a US soldier and a Native American, with the words "PEACE AND FRIENDSHIP" embossed throughout. Above the hands are a tomahawk and a peace pipe crossed. In addition to bronze and silver, some medals were cast in gold. The size and composition of the medal varied with the importance of the occasion and the status of the person receiving the token. Many tribal leaders wore the medals around their necks on leather thongs, as depicted in paintings of chiefs visiting James Monroe in 1819 by the American artist Charles Bird King.

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Details

  • Title: Peace Medals
  • Creator: Moritz Furst
  • Date Created: 1817

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