Fidelity Medallion

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Fidelity Medallion
Awarded by United States Armed Forces
Type Military medallion
Awarded for Participation in the capture of Major John André
Campaign American Revolutionary War
Status Obsolete, awarded for specific event.
First awarded 1780
Last awarded 1780
Total awarded 3

The Fidelity Medallion is the oldest decoration of the United States military and was created by act of the Continental Congress in 1780.[1] Also known as the "André Capture Medal", the Fidelity Medallion was awarded to those soldiers who participated in the capture of Major John André, of the British army, who had been the contact to Benedict Arnold and had helped organize his defection.

Historical records indicate that three soldiers, all members of the militia of New York state, were awarded the Fidelity Medallion after its first issuance: Private John Paulding, Private David Williams, and Private Isaac van Wart.[2]

The obverse of the medallion was inscribed “Fidelity”; the reverse, with the motto, “Amor Patriæ Vincit”, which means, “The love of country conquers.”

The Fidelity Medallion was never again bestowed and it quickly became regarded as a commemorative decoration. For this reason, the Badge of Military Merit is generally considered the first decoration of the U.S. military, even though it was created two years after the Fidelity Medallion, in 1782.

Disposition of the three Medallions[edit]

All three of the original Medallions are now lost. Isaac van Wart's example was lost at the time of his death in 1828. John Paulding's and David Williams' medallions were both donated to the New-York Historical Society in 1905 which displayed them in a locked, glass-topped case. In mid-1975, the two Medallions were stolen, along with the pocket watch originally belonging to Major John André. The Historical Society did not go public with the loss at the time, and none of the items have been recovered.[3]


In the two centuries since the original Fidelity Medallions were issued, replicas have occasionally been produced in metals including silver, pewter, lead and bronze and in varying degrees of historical accuracy. The American Numismatic Society has six different specimens in their collection.[4]


  1. ^ "Medals and Awards of The Revolution". Retrieved 22 June 2013. 
  2. ^ Historical Collection of New York, by John W. Barber and Henry Howe, 1841
  3. ^ "Lest We Forget: Masterpieces of Patriotic Jewelry and Military Decorations", p. 54-5, Judith Price, Taylor Trade Publishing, ISBN 978-1-58979-686-7
  4. ^