James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from William Jones, [18 October 1814]

From William Jones

[18 October 1814]

I respectfully submit the enclosed1 in order to suggest the expediency of instructing Mr Crawford to encourage and facilitate the emig[r]ation of a few Parisian or German medallists. It appears to be a fact that but one artist is to be found in the U States capable of executing in a decent style the medals voted by Congress to the Navy officers and that person has been exclusively engaged on the medals for the Indian Depmt until now.2

He is engaged or about to be engaged to execute the medals for this Depmt. He did that for Com Preble which is the best ever executed in America but on comparing it with those of the Parisian artists it is contemptible indeed. The number required and which will probably be required in a short time would be a great object for three or four complete artists.


RC and enclosures (NN). RC docketed by JM: “Ocr. 18. 1814.” Undated; date assigned based on the docket. For enclosure, see n. 1.

1Jones enclosed a 15 Oct. 1814 letter to him from Philadelphia navy agent George Harrison (1 p.), forwarding a 14 Oct. 1814 letter to Harrison from Murray, Draper, Fairman & Co. (2 pp.), proposing to make all the medals required by the Navy Department for $800, “provided the Government would facilitate the means of procuring some assistance from France or Germany.” They suggested that U.S. minister to France William Harris Crawford might be able to obtain permission from the French government for such craftsmen to leave that country, and assured Harrison that they would pay all costs of bringing the workers to the United States.

2Jones referred to John Reich, assistant engraver at the U.S. Mint, whom John Vaughan selected in 1812 to produce Indian medals bearing JM’s likeness. Vaughan, who managed the work in Philadelphia for Superintendent of Indian Trade John Mason, also suggested that a plaster cast of the president be made for reproduction on the medals, and in Washington, Italian artist Giuseppe Franzoni was commissioned to model a clay bust of JM from life for this purpose. It was finished by December 1812 but did not reach Philadelphia until February 1814. Twelve medals bearing Madison’s image finally arrived in Washington on 17 Dec. 1814, and at least three hundred more of various sizes were produced by June 1815. According to Mason’s correspondence, the clay bust of JM was given to the American Philosophical Society, but the editors have been unable to confirm its location thereafter (Francis Paul Prucha, Indian Peace Medals in American History [Madison, Wisc., 1971], 95–98; Mason to Vaughan, 19 Dec. 1812, DNA: RG 75, Letters Sent by the Superintendent of Indian Trade). For images of the medals, see Prucha, Indian Peace Medals, 97.

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