Salem Mass Tercentenary

Settled by Roger Conant


In 1626, Roger Conant and a group of his followers left their attempted colony at Cape Ann and traveled south to a new location on the northern shore of Massachusetts Bay where they founded Naumkeag. The settlement changed its name to Salem in 1629.
From the earliest days of Massachusetts history, Salem has been a leading settlement/town/city, often trailing only Boston in prominence. Thus, it wasn’t a surprise when it decided to strike a commemorative medal in 1926 to recognize the 300th anniversary of its 1626 founding.
The medal’s obverse design depicts the adopted Seal of Salem. The Seal echoes Salem’s close early ties to the Spice Trade with the Far East. On the central shield is an Atjehnese (Sumatran) merchant, dressed in the robes of his land, standing on a beach with palm trees nearby and a sailing ship approaching the coast behind him. (Atjah was an independent kingdom on Sumatra where Salem first initiated its robust spice trade.) The ribbon below the shield is inscribed, in Latin: “DIVITIS INDIAE USQUE SINUM” which translates into English (literally) as “UP TO THE BAY OF RICH INDIA.” However, it is generally interpreted as: “To the farthest port of the rich east.” – the motto of the City of Salem.
Above the Shield is seen a dove with an olive branch in its beak; it is meant to be symbolic of Salem’s “City of Peace” designation. Encircling the shield and dove is the inscription “CIVITATIS REGIMINE DONATA SALEM / CONDITA A.D. 1626 1836,” which translates to “Incorporated as a City in 1836” / “Founded in 1626”.
The reverse of the medal, depicts Roger Conant, Salem’s founder, with a sailing ship in the background; the ship is the square-rigged clipper ship St. Paul, said to have been the largest sailing ship, with Salem-based ownership, of her time. The Far East was included in many of her trade voyages and she brought many full loads back to Salem. A statue of Roger Conant, by sculptor Henry Kitson, was dedicated in Salem in 1913. The statue is clearly the reference for the depiction of Conant on the medal.