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Well worn Copper's Blog

03 Apr 2022

Re-Discovering Peter Salem: A Forgotten Black American Patriot

| Well worn Copper

I recently purchased a lot of old Franklin Mint catalogs from 1966-1972. These were published every year to society members and listed that year's previous issues. I've been a student of American history for quite some time now, but an unfamiliar name popped up: Peter Salem. Peter Salem was a slave who fought in the battle of Bunker Hill. His owner freed him so he could fight in the revolution and it was Salem who fired the fatal shot that killed British general Pitcairn at the battle. Artist John Trumbull included Salem on his famous painting, with Salem being shielded by an American officer. Peter Salem was featured on two Franklin Mint issues in 1972. One was in the American Negro Commemorative Society and the other from the Patriots hall of Fame series. Both medals were struck in sterling silver and one in gold. During the great silver melt of 1979-80 probably most, if not all, of these medals were sold for scrap and melted down, which explains why I could not find any anywhere. Salem's name seems to have disappeared over time and sad to say he should have been featured on the 1998 Black patriots Commemorative Silver Dollar, along with Crispus Attucks. I could find no other medals featuring Salem anywhere and he was buried in a pauper's grave in 1816. Salem deserved more in our history books, not to mention a greater numismatic tribute. For those interested the Franklin Mint catalog numbers for the Salem medals, they are ANS-34 and PHS-5. Good luck finding one.

Comments

Mike

Level 7

Still have that picture of Peter Salam. If you want it!!

Long Beard

Level 5

The 1998 commemorrative has been on my list since then, missed buying it, but still a tad high on the secondary.

Longstrider

Level 6

Thanks for this blog. I never heard of him. Thanks history classes. You state he was buried in a paupers grave. I assume he was reinterned in a nice one. I hope. Thanks again.

Mal_ANA_YN

Level 5

Learn something new every time I read blogs.

coinsbygary

Level 5

I love this blog for two reasons. First, it gives credit where credit is due in American history. Next, I learned something new today!

Kepi

Level 6

Nice research. Enjoyed your blog! Cool coin! ; )

AC coin$

Level 6

Wonderful to give a standing place to another American Hero. An attractive coin for historians. Nice pics. Thanks.

Mike

Level 7

I too studied American History in college. The first Person of color to win the Congressional Medal was William Carney. . He won it at the battle of Fort Wagner. He was the flag bearer. He was shot five times. In the right side of his head leg stomach legs. As he went down another solder came over and grabbed the flag to which Carney said it never touched the ground. Believe it he survived and lived to be 91 years old. He was a passenger on the underground railroad. Mr. Salem was freed by his owners!! Who he fought with!!

CheerioCoins

Level 5

I’m familiar with the Battle of Bunker Hill but not Peter Salem. He seems to be quite an American hero and in my opinion deserved those issues. It was interesting and I would love to hear more. Thanks for sharing!

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