spacer Presidential medals


John Quincy Adams medalspacer The making of medals bearing the likenesses of Presidents is a tradition that began with George Washington's administration. One of the most important parts of that tradition until late in the nineteenth century were the medals that government agents presented to Indian leaders on the frontier as tokens of peace and amity. The Indian peace medal shown here dates from the presidency of John Quincy Adams.


John Quincy Adams
Moritz Furst (born 1782)
Silver medal, 1825
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Gift of Andrew Oliver
NPG.69.79

Enlarged image





John F. Kennedyspacer The Zachary Taylor medal predates Taylor's presidency. Congress authorized the medal to honor his victory during the Mexican War at the Battle of Buena Vista, and a version in gold was presented to Taylor.


Zachary Taylor
Charles Cushing Wright (1796-1854), after Salathiel Ellis
Bronze, 1848
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Gift of Marvin Sadik
NPG.77.247

Enlarged image





Jimmy Carterspacer The practice of issuing inaugural medals to mark a President's swearing-in also took hold early, but it was some years before it became the custom that it is today. This gold medal from Jimmy Carter's inauguration was presented to Bardyl Tirana, co-chairman of his inaugural committee.


Jimmy Carter
Julian Hoke Harris (1906-1987)
Gold medal, 1976
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Gift of Bardyl Tirana
NPG.78.49

Enlarged image