Cooper Commemorative Medal

Title: 
Cooper Commemorative Medal
Date: 
Identifier: 
N0017.2011
Description: 
This medal was struck by Commodore Elliott in honor of J.F. Cooper and in gratitude for Cooper's vindication of Elliott's conduct at the battle of Lake Erie. Made of white metal, the obverse depicts the bust of J. Fenimore Cooper facing left with the words: "THE PERSONIFICATION OF HONOR, TRUTH, AND JUSTUCE." Reverse has a wreath with the words: "TO/J. FENIMORE COOPER,/THE OFFERING/OF A /GRATEFUL HEART/FOR/HIS DISINTERESTED/VINDICATION/OF HIS/BROTHER SAILOR/JESSE D. ELLIOTT." During the first half of the 19th century, there was a very public controversy over the American captain Jesse Elliott's conduct during the Battle of Lake Erie against the British in 1813. Although the Americans won the battle under Captain Oliver Hazard Perry's command, his second-in-command Capt. Elliott may not have entered the battle as soon as he could have, and was suspected of cowardice. However, the official report of the battle by Perry praises Elliott's conduct, citing the wind as the reason he could not turn his ship into the fray to assist Perry's ship which was taking heavy casualties. It was not until five years later that Capt. Perry revoked his praise of Elliott's conduct and court-marshalled him. James Fenimore Cooper involved himself in the dispute when he defended Elliott in his seminal History Of the Navy (1839). He got into a literary war-of-words with his fellow author Alexander Slidell MacKenzie, each penning different sides of the story in the press. This medal shows Elliott's gratitude toward Cooper for his public defense and upholding of his name and honor. Cooper was in the navy from 1808-1811, thus explaining the phrasing on the medal as from "his brother sailor."
Physical dimensions: 
diameter 2 in, height 0.125 in