Artist/Maker: John Reich (1768-1833)
Origin/Purchase: Washington, D.C.
Materials: copper-bronzed medal
Dimensions: 6.4 (2 1/2 in.)
Accession Number: 1943-2
Historical Notes: In tribute to his successful attack on the city of
Tripoli during the fall of 1804, Congress commissioned this medal honoring navy commodore Edward Preble. President Jefferson may have received this medal as a gift from the United States mint, where John Reich designed the dies from which two hundred copper medals and one gold one were struck. After Preble's return to the United States in 1805, Jefferson praised his actions to Congress:
The energy & judgment displayed by this excellent officer thro' the whole course of the service lately confided to him, and the zeal and bravery of his officers & men ... cannot fail to give high satisfaction to Congress and their country, of whom they have deserved well.
Preble began his career with the navy as a midshipman and lieutenant in the Revolutionary War and rose to the rank of captain in 1799. He joined the forces fighting the Barbary pirates in Tripoli in 1803 and commanded the third squadron to be sent to the Mediterranean. His actions at Tripoli laid the groundwork for the 1805 peace treaty. Jefferson undoubtedly remembered Preble fondly not only for his military success but also for his gift of a hogshead of Marsala wine from Madrid. Jefferson reciprocated by sending Preble a polygraph, a letter-copying machine that he purchased from Charles Willson Peale in Philadelphia.
- Text from Stein, Worlds, 242
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