Historical Highlights

The First Time Congress Replaced a Congressional Gold Medal

March 14, 1904
The First Time Congress Replaced a Congressional Gold Medal Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee, Report 1383, 58th Cong., 2nd sess. In 1904, the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce recommended awarding John Horn, Jr., a duplicate Congressional Gold Medal to replace his missing medal.
On this date, the House of Representatives voted to approve striking a duplicate Congressional Gold Medal previously awarded to John Horn, Jr. The act of reissuing the medal marked a first for Congress. In 1874, Congress honored Horn for a long heroic career in which he rescued more than 100 people from drowning in the Detroit River, many of whom had fallen in while getting on and off ferryboats at the city wharf. Prior to his life-saving efforts, Horn had an impressive career in baseball as an outfielder for the Detroit Baseball Club, an early semi-professional team. However, after years of rescues, during which he often risked his own life, he was afflicted by rheumatism and other physical ailments. In addition to his health issues, Horn noted that over the years his rescues had cost him more than $1,000 in clothing. Horn later claimed that the medal was stolen from his house in October 1901, and he was unable to recover it. In previous instances, the Secretary of the Treasury had issued duplicate medals "at the expense of the applicants," upon the submission of absolute proof that showed "the originals had been irrecoverably lost or destroyed." Since such proof was absent in Horn’s case, the congressional approval was necessary before a duplicate medal could be issued. The medal itself was decorated with the "undraped bust of John Horn, Jr. facing to the left," with his name engraved underneath. The reverse side of the medal stated, “By the act of Congress, June 20, 1874,” followed by the inscription, “In recognition of his heroic exploits in rescuing men, women, and children from drowning in Detroit River.”

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