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The E-Sylum: Volume 4, Number 9, February 25, 2001, Article 7


George Fuld wrote in with a few questions on the Horan book:

1. "I have checked the Horan edition of 120 plates, and only 27 of the 120 contain Indian Peace Medals. Is there this much difference between the original 150 plates and the Horan edition? [Editor's note: Fuld later wrote: "I must apologize--upon further checking of the 128 Horan plates, actually 41 show Peace Medals!! Sorry for misinforming Don G."]

2. Incidentally, I can't find Horan's reference to McKenney collecting Peace medals -- only a long reference to the John Q. Adams issue. Did I miss something?

3. Are the original 150 plate set available on the internet???"

Your Editor investigated the internet question, and found hundreds of references to McKenney-Hall, but these lead mostly to dealers peddling copies of the prints. For those on a tight budget, you can buy a pack of 52 playing cards featuring the prints. One of the few noncommercial web sites featuring the prints is the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, which has six McKinney Hall images:

George's first two questions are addressed in the following note from Jan Monroe:

"I am not an expert on the original McKenney-Hall plates. However, I have looked at a set of books produced in the 1930's as I recall that showed about the same percentage of medals (i.e.about the 27 mentioned.) The Horan book does show many prints of indians wearing peace medals.

The Asylum article on the McKenney prints and books published years ago should provide more information for George Fuld as it was a great piece of research.

[Editor's note: Jan is referring to an article by Don Groves in the Autumn 1995 issue of The Asylum (Vol XIII, No. 4, pp19-21, titled "North American Indians - McKenney & Hall."

On Page 86-87 of Horan is the section on the ordering of the peace medals from the US Mint by McKenney for the Indians. On page 66 the book states that "McKenney toured the countryside on horseback, collecting curiosities from an Indian Mound for his archives and interviewing survivors of the Indian and Revolutionary wars and the war of 1812." .... Before the expedition was finished bales and boxes of Indian costumes, bones, jewelry, beadwork, pipes, medals...had been sent back to Washington."

It is not really clear if "his archives" is McKenneys personal collection or if it was for the Federal Government. On page 62 the book states that "The archives and Indian Portrait gallery were now part of the Bureau of Indian Affairs..."

The general tone of the book is that McKenney was very interested in the Peace Medals and was actually the individual that convinced the War department to issue Indian Peace medals. The War department thought they were too expensive. McKenney reviewed the models prepared by Furst of Presidents Madison, Monroe, and Adams.

McKenney was in a position to purchase copies of medals if he wished and his employees distributed the medals to the Indians. McKenney wrote to the Secretary of War in 1825 outlining the history of the Indian Peace Medals.

Given this history and his interest I believe that it is quite likely that he did have at least a few Indian Peace Medals although the book does not mention a personal collection. It is unclear from the Red Jacket discussion as to whether he intended to purchase the Red Jacket medal for himself or the war department. After rereading the text I may have assumed too much.

At the time of his death McKenney was impoverished and if he had a collection of medals it would have been sold to help pay for the publishing of his book or his living expenses. McKenney was a great man and a true public servant who accomplished great things but died with little recognition for his accomplishments."

Wayne Homren, Editor

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