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Congressional Gold Medal

Medal voted for General Daniel Morgan by Congress after Battle of Cowpens 1781

A Congressional Gold Medal is an award bestowed by the United States Congress; the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom are the highest civilian awards in the United States. It is awarded to persons "who have performed an achievement that has an impact on American history and culture that is likely to be recognized as a major achievement in the recipient's field long after the achievement."[1] However, "There are no permanent statutory provisions specifically relating to the creation of Congressional Gold Medals. When a Congressional Gold Medal has been deemed appropriate, Congress has, by legislative action, provided for the creation of a medal on an ad hoc basis."[1] American citizenship is not a requirement.


  • History 1
  • Process of awarding 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Further reading 5
  • External links 6


Replica of Congressional Gold Medal presented to United States President Ronald and First Lady Nancy Reagan, 2002

Since the American Revolution, Congress has commissioned World War II.

As of 2013 four people had been awarded more than one gold medal: Winfield Scott (1814 for War of 1812 and 1848 for Mexican–American War), Zachary Taylor (1846, 1847, and 1848 for Mexican-American War), Lincoln Ellsworth (1928 and 1936 for polar exploration), and Hyman G. Rickover (1958 for the "Nuclear Navy" and 1982 for his entire career).

Process of awarding

Flyer promoting the Congressional Gold Medal award for the 65th Infantry Regiment

The Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom are generally considered to carry the same level of prestige (though significantly fewer Gold Medals have been awarded). The chief difference between the two is that the Freedom Medal is personally awarded by the President of the United States, and Congressional Gold Medals are awarded by Acts of Congress (Congress may authorize the President to present the award).

Per committee rules, legislation bestowing a Congressional Gold Medal upon a recipient must be co-sponsored by two-thirds of the membership of both the House of Representatives and the Senate before their respective committees (the House Committee on Financial Services and the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs) will consider it.[1]

Congressional Gold Medal authorized by the Congress on May 4, 1928, and awarded to Col. Charles A. Lindbergh on August 15, 1930.

A Congressional Gold Medal is designed by the United States Mint to specifically commemorate the person and achievement for which the medal is awarded. Medals are therefore different in appearance, and there is no standard design. Congressional Gold Medals are considered non-portable, meaning that they are not meant to be worn on a uniform or other clothing, but rather displayed. In rare instances, miniature versions have been made for wear on clothing, suspended from a ribbon; for Lieutenant Frank Newcomb, Lieutenant David H. Jarvis, the men of the Jeannette Expedition, the men of the First Byrd Expedition of 1928-1930, and for the men who completed the first transatlantic flight in May 1919.

Often, bronze versions of the medals are struck for sale by the U.S. Mint, and may be available in both larger and smaller sizes. In at least one case, the John Wayne medal, private dealers bought large numbers of the bronze version. They were then gold plated and resold to the public for a significant profit.[3]

The Congressional Gold Medal is distinct from the Medal of Honor, a military decoration for extreme bravery in action, and from the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, presented by NASA for extraordinary accomplishment in United States space exploration.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d CRS Report RL30076"Congressional Gold Medals, 1776-2012"Congressional Research Service, . Retrieved 2012-09-09. 
  2. ^ a b Congressional Gold Medal Recipients

Further reading

  • Snowden, James Ross (1809-1878), Director of the Mint: United States Mint. (1861) A description of the medals of Washington; and of other objects of interest in the Museum of the Mint. Illustrated, to which are added biographical notices of the directors of the Mint from 1792 to the year 1851. (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co.).

External links

  • List of recipients
  • Loubat, J. F. and Jacquemart, Jules, Illustrator, .The Medallic History of the United States of America 1776-1876
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