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Jefferson Indian Peace Medal & Beads
  • "TH. JEFFERSON PRESIDENT OF THE U.S. A.D. 1801" with image of Thomas Jefferson
  • First to bear image of this president
  • Other side says "Peace And Friendship" with clasped hands and a crossed tomahawk and peace pipe
  • Includes a strand of glass beads
  • Prior to the American Revolution, the British, French, and Spanish had presented American Indian leaders with silver medals, as tokens of distinction and allegiance. Because of the symbolic importance of these medals in maintaining peaceful relations with Indian tribes, the new United States government continued the practice
  • Thomas Jefferson, the first Secretary of State, described the policy in 1793 as "an antient Custom from time immemorial." "The medals," he wrote,"considered as complimentary things, as marks of friendship to those who come to see us, or who do us good offices, conciliatory of their good will towards us, and not designed to produce a contrary disposition towards others. They confer no power, and seem to have taken their origin in the European practice of giving medals or other marks of friendship to the negotiators of treaties, and other diplomatic Characters, or visitors of distinction."
  • Medals were presented to Indian chiefs on their visits to the national capital and on important occasions such as the signing of a treaty
  • Federal officials distributed medals when traveling through Indian territories
  • Meriwether Lewis and William Clark carried a large supply of the Jefferson Indian peace medals on their expedition to the Pacific Ocean from 1804 to 1806


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