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James Buchanan peace medal, 2nd size / United States

Essay/Description

A James Buchanan silver medal. Front has a bust of the president with the words, “James Buchanan, President of the United States. 1857.” The back features two Native American men fighting around a smaller picture of a farming scene.

Salathiel Ellis and Joseph Wilson designed the earlier Millard Fillmore and Franklin Piece medals and won the contract to create the Buchanan medal. They designed a totally new and rather peculiar reverse for the medal; very different from the traditional “peace and friendship” imagery. A plowing scene similar to that of the much earlier Washington Seasons medals is surrounded by the image of one Indian grasping the hair of a rival, presumable to scalp him. A pipe, usually used to represent peace, is covered over by a bow and balanced for design by a quiver of arrows.
For a medal that supposedly encourages and rewards peaceful intentions, the symbolism of this medal seems out of step.

Restrikes in bronze of this medal have a totally different s

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Title(s): 
James Buchanan peace medal, 2nd size
Culture: 
United States
Date: 
circa 1857
Period: 
Historic
Materials/Techniques: 
silver
Classification: 
Object Type: 
Accession No: 
65.47
Previous Number(s): 
6526.47; 65.47
Department: 
Not On View

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