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Certificate Presenting the Congressional Gold Medal to William Bainbridge

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Beginning in 1776, the United States Congress began awarding gold medals to distinguished military figures who served in the American Revolution, and later the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War, as expressions of appreciation for their achievements and contributions. Since then the scope has broadened to include civilians such as notable public servants, humanitarians, scientists, doctors, and cultural figures.

On March 3, 1813, the U.S. Congress approved the commissioning of a Congressional gold medal to Commodore William Bainbridge for his defeat of the British frigate HMS Java on December 29, 1812. The battle marked USS Constitution’s second victory of the War of 1812, and Bainbridge and his crew were greeted with a hero’s welcome upon their return to Boston.

This oversized certificate, signed by Secretary of the Navy Smith Thompson and dated February 10, 1820, officially presents the Congressional gold medal to Bainbridge. The certificate’s artwork was created by C. Schwarz, draftsman for the Navy Board.


Smith Thompson (signer), C. Schwarz (artist)

Date Created
February 10, 1820

Ink, Board

[H]21 3/4 in. [W]17 3/4 in.

Catalog Number

Credit Line
USS Constitution Museum Collection. Mr. William Bainbridge Frothingham Gift.

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