III. Jefferson’s Description of the Medals
[ca. Feb. 1789]
Type. His head.
Legend. Georgio Washington, supremo duci exercituum, adsertori libertatis, Comitia Americana.
Reverse. The evacuation of Boston. The American army advancing in order towards the city seen at a distance. The enemy retires with precipitation to their vessels. On the foreground General Washington appears on horseback, in a groupe of officers, to whom he remarks the retreat of the enemy.
Legende. Hostibus primo fugatis.
Exergum. Bostonium recuperatum die 17. Martii 1776.
Le General Washington.
D’un coté la tete de ce general.
Legende. Georgio Washington, supremo duci exercituum, adsertori libertatis, Comitia Americana.
Revers. L’Evacuation de Boston. L’armée Americaine s’avance en bon ordre vers cette ville qu’on apperçoit dans l’eloignement tandis que l’armée Angloise fuit avec precipitation vers le rivage pour s’embarquer sur les vaisseaux dont la rade est couverte. Sur le devant du tableau, du coté de l’armée Americaine, paroit le General Washington à cheval dans une groupe d’officiers auxquels il semble faire remarquer la fuite de l’ennemi.1
Legende. Hostibus primo fugatis.2
Exergue. Bostonium recuperatum die 17. martii 177
Type. Sa tete
Legende. Benj. Franklin natus Boston. XVII Jan. MDCCVI
Revers. Son genie d’un main maitrise la foudre et de l’autre montre le sceptre et la couronne rompues de la tyrannie.3
Legende. Eripuit coelo fulmen sceptrumque tyrannis.
Exer. Comitia Americana.4
Type. His head.
Legend. Horatio Gates duci strenuo5 comitia Americana.
Reverse. The enemy grounding their arms; their general presenting his sword to General Gates at the head of his troops whose arms are6
Legend. Salus regionum7 septentrionalium.
Exergum. Hoste ad Saratogam in deditionem accepto die XVII. Octobris MDCCLXXVII.
Le General Gates.
D’un coté sa tete.
Legende. Horatio Gates duci strenuo5 comitia Americana.
Revers. Le General ennemi, à la tete de son armée qui pose les armes à terre, presente son epée au General Americain, dont l’armée porte les armes hautes.
Legende. Salus regionum7 septentrionalium.
Exergue. Hoste ad Saratogam in deditionem accepto die XVII Octobris MDCCLXXVII.
Type. America erect, distinguishable by her scutcheon, extends with her left hand a mural crown, and with her right crowns with laurel General Wayne inclining himself before her.
Legend. Antonia Wayne duci exercitus.
Exergum. Comitia A8
Le General Wayne.
Type. L’Amerique debout, reconnoissable à l’ecusson de ses armes tient, de la main gauche elevée, une couronne murale, et donne de la droite une couronne de laurier au General Wayne incliné devant elle.9
Legende. Antonio Wayne duci exercitus.10
Exergue. Comitia Americana.
Revers. Le fort de Stoney point au moment ou les troupes Americaines penetrent dans les travaux, la bayonette au bout du fusil.11
Legende. Stoney point expugnatum.
Exerque. Jul. XV. MDCCLXXIX.
Type. L’Amerique debout comme sur la medaille du General Wayne, et avec les memes attributs, donne de la main droite une palme au Major Stewart incliné devant elle.12
Legende. Joanni13 Stewart Cohortis praefecto.
Exergue. Comitia Americana.
Revers. Le Major, à la tete de sa troupe, force l’Abbatis d’arbres qui defendoit Stoney-point qu’on apper·oit sur le second plan.14
Legende. Stoney-point oppugnatum.
Exergue. XV. Jul. MDCCLXXIX.
Le Contre-Amiral J. Paul Jones.15
Type. Sa tete.
Legende. Joanni Paulo Jones classis praefecto.
Exergue. Comitia Americana.
Revers. Combat de vaisseaux.16
Legende. Hostium navibus captis aut fugatis.17
Exergue. Ad oram Scotiae XXIII. Sept. MDCCLXXIX.
Le General Morgan.
Le general à la tete de son armée charge l’ennemi qui prend la fuite.
Legende. Victoria libertatis vindex.
Exergue. Fugatis, captis aut caesis ad Cowpens hostibus XVII. Jan. MDCCLXXXI.18
Revers. L’Amerique reconnoissable à son ecusson appuie sa main gauche sur une trophée d’armes et de drapeaux, et de la droite couronne le general incliné devant elle.19
Legende. Danieli20 Morgan duci exercitus.
Exergue. Comitia Americana.
Le Colonel Washington
Le Colonel à la tete d’un petit nombre de soldats fond sur l’ennemi qui commence à prendre la fuite, et que lui montre la victoire placée audessus de sa tete.21
Legende. Gulielmo Washington legionis IV praefecto.22
Exergue. Comitia Americana.
Revers. Cette inscription dans une couronne de laurier23
parva militum manu
strenue prosecutus hostes
praeclarum specimen dedit
in pugnâ ad24 Cowpens
XVII: Jan. MDCCLXXXI.
Lieutenant Colonel Howard.
Meme Type, meme legende,25 au nom près, meme exergue qu’a celle du Colonel Washington.
Revers. Dans une couronne de laurier
in nutantem hostium aciem
praeclarum bellicae virtutis
in pugnâ ad24 Cowpens
XVII. Jan. MDCCLXXXI.
Le General Greene.
D’un coté sa tete.
Legende. Nathanieli Greene egregio duci Comitia Americana.
Revers. La Victoire foulant aux pieds des armes brisées.26
Legende. Salus regionum7 australium.
Exergue. Hostibus ad27 Eutaw debellatis die VIII Sept. MDCCLXXXI.
Declaration of Independance, and capture of two28 armies of the enemy at Saratoga and York town.
A head representing American liberty; it’s tresses floating in the air. The cap of Liberty on the point of a spear.
Exergum. 4. Juil. 1776. (The day on which the United states declared themselves independant.
Legende. Non sine diis animosus infans.
|Exergum.||17.||1777||Dates of the capitulations|
|19.||1781.||of Saratoga and York town.|
Declaration d’Independance et Prise des deux armées ennemies à Saratoga et à York-town
Une tete representant la liberté Americaine, avec les cheveux flottans en arriere, et le bonnet au bout d’une pique.
Legende. Libertas Americana.
Exergue. 4. Juil. 1776. (jour ou les Etats unis se sont declarés independants.
Revers. Hercule enfant, se levant du bouclier qui lui sert de berceau, et etouffant dans ses mains deux serpens. un leopard se jette sur l’enfant. Minerve, armèe d’un bouclier (aux armes de France) vient à son secour.
Legende. Non sine diis animosus infans.
|Exergue.||17.||1777||jours des deux capitulations de|
|19.||1781||Saratoga et de York-town.|
MS (DLC: TJ Papers, 10: 1586–7, 1595, 1590–1, 1588–9, 1580, 1581, 1582, 1583, 1584, 1585, 1593–4); entirely in TJ’s hand; undated, but, since this is the fair copy of the descriptions prepared to be printed and distributed with the medals, it must have been compiled in late Feb. 1789 (see TJ to Dupré, 23 Feb. 1789). The MS is both disarranged and fragmentary, lacking English texts for descriptions of seven of the medals and both English and French texts for the De Fleury medal (see description of MS 5 below). If, as seems probable from the fact that TJ possessed data for preparing descriptions of all the medals, he prepared texts for all, this fair copy must originally have consisted of twelve leaves, one for each description, with the English and French texts in parallel columns. This is proved by the fact that the leaves for the Washington, Gates, Wayne, and Yorktown descriptions are intact and have the English text on the left and the French text on the right. The texts of the descriptions have been arranged here in the order that TJ evidently intended, and the folio sequence given above is parallel with this arrangement. That this was his intended sequence is indicated by a memorandum in DLC: TJ Papers, 10: 1579, in his hand, in which the names of the individuals and the dates of the actions commemorated are in chronological order (MS has this note by TJ on verso: “Metrologie de Romé de l’isle 4to. Didot. Debure, &c.”—a work TJ evidently did not acquire, though he did possess Romé de L’Isle’s L’action du feu central [Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–1959, 5 vols. description ends No. 6441]). TJ’s fair copy was based on the following memoranda, drafts, and documents, which are numbered for convenience of reference in the textual notes, where the more important variants are indicated:
MS 1: Dft (DLC: TJ Papers, 10: 1592); entirely in TJ’s hand, consisting of his translations of the French inscriptions provided by the Académie Royale des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres for the Washington, Gates, Wayne, Franklin, Stewart, Jones, Morgan, William A. Washington, and Greene medals. The translations for all save the Franklin medal were obviously made soon after TJ received the designs for the Jones and Morgan medals (ca. 10–13 Feb. 1789), and the inscription in English and French for the reverse of the Franklin medal was added at the bottom of the page, immediately under that for the Wayne medal, after TJ had received a reply to his to Dupré of 23 Feb. 1789. The sequence in this draft also confirms the chronological arrangement intended by TJ in MS above.
MS 2: MS (DLC: TJ Papers, 10: 1596); entirely in TJ’s hand, consisting of a copy of the resolution of Congress of 9 Mch. 1781 and of the full texts in French of “Devices of the Academy of Belles letters for the medals of Genl. Morgan, Lt. Col. Washington, Lt. Col. Howard,” followed by the extract of Humphreys’ letter of 4 Apr. 1786 (see Document I in present series) and the following: “Note by Col. Humphreys. N.B. Washington’s Christian name is William and Howard’s is John Egar Howard. Washington’s was the 4th regiment of horse.” The French texts of the designs must have constituted TJ’s retained file copies of the descriptions furnished by secretary of the Académie Royale, M. Dacier, which TJ probably sent (for the Howard and William A. Washington medals) to Duvivier and (for the Morgan medal) to Dupré.
MS 3: MS (DLC: TJ Papers, 10: 1575); entirely in TJ’s hand, consisting of copies of resolutions of Congress of 25 Mch. 1776 and 8 Oct. 1777 respecting the Washington medal and of the text in French of the “Device projected by the Academy of belles lettres on the application of Colo. Humphreys” at head of text: “General Washington’s medal. 30. lignes diamete[r].” This evidently was, in respect to the design, TJ’s retained file copy of the description furnished by Dacier, the original of which TJ probably sent to Duvivier.
MS 4: MS (DLC: TJ Papers, 10: 1576); entirely in TJ’s hand, consisting of copy of resolution of Congress of 26 July 1779 authorizing a medal to be struck emblematical of the action at Stony Point and stipulating “that one of gold be presented to B. G. Wayne, and a silver one to Lt. Col. Fleury and Major Stewart respectively” containing the text in French for the devices of the Wayne and Stewart medals; at head of text: “Genl Wayne. Majr. Stewart.” Following the text of the resolution of Congress, TJ wrote: “Colo. Humphreys in his letter of Apr. 4. 1786 to me does not say a word of these medals. Perhaps they had been done and sent away by him.”
MS 5: MS (DLC: TJ Papers, 232: 42196); undated and in the hand of Pierre Simon Duvivier, being a general description of the design for the De Fleury medal, reading:
“Mars debout sur les debris du fort foule aux pieds le drapeau qu’il a arraché et eleve son épée avec laquelle il a vaincu les enemis qui s’opposoient a sa conqueste.
Legende: Monument et prix du Courage le plus audacieux.
Exergue: Votée par les Etats d’Amerique a lhonneur de Mr. Le chevalier fleury officier françois pour avoir le premier escaladé les murs du fort.”
In DLC: TJ Papers, 233: 41770, there is, in TJ’s hand, an English translation of the devices of the De Fleury medal, reading: “Fleury
Type. The fort of Stoney point and the enemy’s vessels in the river before it.
Leg. Aggeres paludes hostes victi
Ex. Stony pt. expugn. XV Jul. MDCCLXXIX
Legende. Virtutis et audaciae monum. et praemium.
Ex. D. De Fleury Equiti Gallo primo super muros resp. Americ. D. D.”
Taken together, these two documents are illuminating. The first shows that Loubat, Medallic history description begins J. F. Loubat, The Medallic History of the United States of America, 1776–1876, New York, 1878, 2 vols. description ends , 1, 22, erred in thinking that the figure in the fort represented De Fleury in the dress of a Roman soldier, for Duvivier considered him to be the god of war. More important, it suggests that TJ asked Duvivier for a description of the medal that had been struck in 1781, that Duvivier complied in a manner not suitable for inclusion in the series of descriptions TJ was preparing, and that TJ thereupon procured from Duvivier or from some other source a copy of the medal itself in order to bring the description into conformity with the others. His English translation is in such form, and that he employed the medal itself to achieve this object is proved by a simple error that he committed: he described the obverse as the reverse, and vice versa. Thus the evidence of his indifference as a numismatist is proof of the more important fact that he intended to include the De Fleury medal in his series of descriptions. It is also possible that TJ’s inquiry of Duvivier about the De Fleury medal led to the revelation that Franklin had not, as Humphreys supposed, caused the Wayne and Stewart medals to be executed when that for De Fleury was struck. It is not known whether TJ got around to compiling a French text of his English description made from the medal itself, but the problem of providing one and a consciousness of the possibility of error may have prompted him, in asking Dupré for a copy of the Franklin medal, to supply an explication as well (TJ to Dupré, 23 Feb. 1789). See note 3, below.
MS 6: MS (DLC: TJ Papers, 10: 1578); entirely in TJ’s hand, consisting of copy of resolution of Congress of 16 Oct. 1787 and of the “Device by the Acad. of Bel. lettr.” for the John Paul Jones medal; at head of text: “Admiral J. P. Jones. 24 lignes.” Following the text of the resolution, TJ wrote: “For an account of it see 3 Gordon’s history of the independence of America.” This evidently was TJ’s retained file copy of the description that he enclosed in his letter of 13 Feb. 1789 to Dupré. In that enclosure, the original of which has not been found though its text is printed in Loubat, Medallic history description begins J. F. Loubat, The Medallic History of the United States of America, 1776–1876, New York, 1878, 2 vols. description ends , i, xiv, TJ indicated that “M. Houdon fournira le buste en plâtre” as a model for Jones’ head. On the question of selecting a likeness for this medal, see Jones to TJ, 9 Sep. 1788. See also note 17, below.
David Humphreys’ translations of the descriptions of the Washington, Gates, and Greene medals as printed in the American Museum, ii (Nov. 1787), 494–5, and those printed in Loubat, Medallic history description begins J. F. Loubat, The Medallic History of the United States of America, 1776–1876, New York, 1878, 2 vols. description ends , i, xxxvi-xliv, as taken from the register of proceedings of the Académie Royale des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres for 1785 and 1789, have been collated with TJ’s texts as printed above. Significant variations are indicated in the notes below, where, for the sake of convenience, the texts are referred to as those of Loubat and Humphreys though in both cases the Académie Royale is the ultimate source. The inscriptions on the medals as executed have also been collated with those given by TJ. The descriptions in Loubat are in general in accord with those prepared for printing by TJ, though it is clear that in the register of the Académie Royale the descriptions of the pictorial devices are sometimes abbreviated (see note 1, below), whereas the inscriptions are there recorded in full and with precision. The accuracy of Loubat’s transcript of the register, which at different times has been verified by Messrs. Howard C. Rice, Jr. and Abel Doysié, is generally but not wholly dependable. It is clear also that TJ’s texts in French describing the designs were the same as those furnished Humphreys—except, of course, those composed in 1789.
1. Loubat’s text reads: “La prise de Boston, l’armée anglaise fuyant le rivage s’embarquer, etc.” MS 3 agrees with TJ’s French text, which is obviously parallel to that furnished Humphreys in 1785. Humphreys’ translation reads: “The evacuation of Boston. The American army advances in good order towards the town, which is seen at a distance, while the British army flies with precipitation towards the strand, to embark on board the vessels with which the road is covered. In the front of the picture, on the side of the American army, general Washington appears on horseback, amidst a groupe of officers, to whom he seems to be pointing out the retreat of the enemy.”
2. Loubat reads: “Hostibus ou Anglis fugatis”—a mixture of French and Latin which, of course, was not intended to be carried over to the medal. MS 3 agrees with above, and so do Humphreys’ text and the medal as executed.
3. TJ’s translation in MS 1 reads: “His genius with one hand disarming the thunder, with the other points to the broken crown and scepter of tyranny.” The French text and English translation of this legend constitute the whole of the description of the Franklin medal in MS 1. It is not known whether Dupré sent TJ the explication requested, but in any case TJ properly described this legend as being on the reverse. For a note on this famous legend, see La Lande to TJ, 9 July 1788.
4. These words do not appear on the Franklin medal as struck.
5. Loubat reads “provido” instead of “strenuo.” Humphreys’ text agrees with that of TJ, as does the medal as struck. This change was made by the Académie Royale at its session on 13 May 1785 (Loubat, Medallic history description begins J. F. Loubat, The Medallic History of the United States of America, 1776–1876, New York, 1878, 2 vols. description ends , i, xxxvii).
6. TJ neglected to complete the description in transcribing the translation from MS 1, which reads: “… whose arms are shouldered.” Humphreys’ translation reads: “The enemy’s general, at the head of the army, who are grounding their arms, presents his sword to the American general, whose troops stand with shouldered arms.” Loubat reads: “Le général ennemi, à la tête de son armée, présente son épée au général Gates, à la tête de l’armée américaine.”
7. In the Gates and Greene medals the Académie Royale decided on 13 May 1785 to change the reading of the word “provinciarum” as originally adopted to “regionum.” Humphreys’ text agrees with that of TJ, as does the medal as struck.
8. TJ neglected to complete the transcribing of the words “Comitia Americana” and also failed to add the translation of the legend on the reverse, which in MS 1 reads: “The fort of Stoney point <the moment> and the Americans entering <the> <its works> with fixed bayonets.” This and the similar omission in the description of the Gates medal (see note 6) indicate that TJ was interrupted in his task of transcribing the fair copy.
9. Loubat reads: “L’Amerique, reconnaissable à son écusson, tient de la main gauche, élevée, une couronne murale,” &c. Text of MS 4 agrees with the above.
10. Register of Académie Royale for 10 Feb. 1789 reads: “N. Waine Duci exercitus” text of MS 4 agrees with above and legend of medal as struck reads “Antonio Wayne,” &c.
11. Loubat reads: “Le Rocher et le Fort de Stony Point.” MS 4 agrees with the above.
12. MS 4 agrees substantially with above. TJ’s translation in MS 1 reads: “America erect as in the medal of G. W and with the same attributes <extends> <gives> presents with her right a branch of palm to Maj. St. inclining himself before her.”
13. Loubat reads: “Le major monte à l’assaut au travers d’un abatis d’arbres qu’il a fait rompre par sa troupe.” MS 4 agrees with above. TJ’s translation in MS 1 reads: “The major at the head of his corps forces the Abbatis of the place seen in another plane.”
14. Loubat reads: “Le major monte à l’assaut au travers d’un abatis d’arbres qu’il a fait rompre par sa troupe.” MS 4 agrees with MS 1.
15. The register of the Académie Royale for 10 Feb. 1789 has the following caption for the description of this medal: “Pour le Commodore Paul Jones.” Caption in MS 6 reads: “Admiral J. P. Jones. 24 lignes.” That in the text sent Dupré (see description MS 6) read: “Médaille pour le contre-amiral John Paul Jones, de 24 lignes.”
16. TJ’s translation in MS 1 reads: “A sea-fight.”
17. The register of the Académie Royale for 10 Feb. 1789 shows that alternative legends for the reverse were proposed. The register reads: “… Légende. Primus Americanorum triumphus Navalis. Exergue. Ad oram Scotiae 19 Sep. anno Autre légende. Hostium navibus captis aut fugatis. Exergue. Comme de l’autre part.” The error in the date of the engagement was silently corrected in MS 6 and in the text sent to Dupré by TJ, the second legend being adopted in both of these and appearing on the medal as struck.
18. MS 2 gives the exergue as originally proposed by the Académie Royale on 13 Dec. 1785: “caesis aut captis ad Cowpens hostium … signis relatis … 17. Jan. 1781” (suspension points in MS). After 10 Feb. 1789, when the text was corrected at TJ’s request, TJ altered the reading in MS 2 to agree with that finally adopted and as given above. This was the reading that appears in the text sent Dupré (see description of MS 6, above) and on the medal as struck.
19. TJ’s translation in MS 1 reads: “America, distinguishable by her scutcheon, rests her left hand on a trophy of arms and colours, and with her right hand crowns the general inclining himself before her.”
20. Loubat reads: “N. Morgan duci exercitus.” This was the reading in MS 2 until TJ altered it to read as above; the revised form, of course, was in the text sent to Dupré and on the medal as struck.
21. TJ’s translation in MS 1 reads: “The Col. at the head of his legion charges <the enemy who take flight> and routs the enemy <,remarked by>. A Victory over his head points to him.”
22. Loubat reads: “N. Washington legionis N. praefecto,” which was the reading in MS 2 until TJ altered it to read: “N. Washington legionis IV. praefecto.” This was presumably the form that TJ sent to Duvivier (but with “Gulielmo” substituted for the first “N”). Duvivier’s missing letter of 23 Feb. 1789 may have raised a question about this legend, for the medal as struck departs from the form established by TJ in MS 2. It reads: “Gulielmo Washington legionis equit praefecto.”
23. The proposal as recorded in the register of the Académie Royale for 13 Dec. 1785 reads: “L’inscription suivante doit être gravée dans une couronne de lauriers,” which is the reading in MS 2 and which TJ translated in MS 1 as: “<inscription in> a <crown> wreath of laurel with this inscription.”
24. Loubat reads: “apud” MS 2 agrees with above.
25. TJ did not record the legend in MS 2, but he obviously did in transmitting the description of this medal to Duvivier. In doing so he gave the erroneous spelling of Howard’s middle name that he had received (or, more likely, miscopied) from Humphreys. The legend in the medal as struck reads: “Joh. Egar. Howard legionis peditum praefecto.”
26. TJ’s translation in MS 1 reads: “Victory tramples on broken arms,” which Humphreys translated as: “A Victory treading under feet broken arms.”
27. Humphreys’ text reads: “apud” MS 1 contains no part of the description save that indicated in note 26; Loubat’s text and that of the medal as struck agree with the above reading.
28. TJ deleted “hostile” at this point.