Thomas Jefferson Indian Peace Medal
John Matthias Reich
On View: American Art Galleries, 5th Floor, Visions and Myths of a Nation, 1800–1890
In the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, silver peace medals were presented to Native leaders by presidents or their representatives as a sign of friendship and the promise that the U.S. government would honor treaties. Tragically, every treaty was broken, changed, or nullified when it served the government’s interests. For many Native people, peace medals came to symbolize broken promises. For others, they became status objects that were incorporated into traditional ornaments.
Gift of F. Ethel Wickham in memory of her father, W. Hull Wickham
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John Matthias Reich (American, born Germany, 1768-1833). Thomas Jefferson Indian Peace Medal, ca. 1801. Silver, Diameter: 4 in. (10.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of F. Ethel Wickham in memory of her father, W. Hull Wickham, 49.135.4. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 49.135.4_front_PS2.jpg)
front, 49.135.4_front_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2008
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Silver peace medal or "gorget." Circular medallion with molded outer edge, struck in low relief. Obverse: bust of Thomas Jefferson with legend "TH. JEFFERSON PRESIDENT OF THE US AD 1801". Reverse: two clasped hands, one with medal wristband and one with buttoned cuff, crossed pipe and tomahawk above, surrounding legend "PEACE AND FRIENDSHIP." Top has double loop for chain attachment.
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