In 1960, Santa Fe, New Mexico, the oldest seat of government in the United States celebrated the 350th anniversary of its founding in 1610 (ten years before the Pilgrims arrived on the Mayflower!).
From the Palace of Governors in Santa Fe, a Spanish Captain-General governed a territory from the Mississippi to the Pacific and from Mexico north to the "unknown north." Santa Fe's first official name was the" Royal City of the Holy Faith of St. Francis of Assisi."
The first governor was Don Juan de Onate, but Spanish occupancy of the palace was short-lived and in 1680 Indian tribes revolted and their chiefs occupied the palace, destroying all vestiges of Christianity and Spanish power. Twelve years later Don Diego de Vargas reconquered it for Spain, in whosw control it remained until Mexican independence in 1821. In 1846, at the start of the Mexican War, the US Army conquered Santa Fe. leading t0 a claim for all the land from the Rio Grande to the Pacific. After years as a territory, New Mexico joined the Union in 192 as the 47th state.
The obverse of the medal, designed by Kay van Elmendorf Wiest and sculpted by Donna Quasthoff, brings this history to life. It shows a view of the old plaza in Santa Fe with the Oñate, Ecalante and Old Santa Fe Trails converging on it with the Rio Grande flowing upward past another trail, Coronado's. To the left are four heads in profile represneting the four cultures of Santa Fe: Indian, Spanish, Mexican, and American. The reverse shows St. Francis' Cathedral and the statue of Archbishop John B. Lamy.
Metal: Solid Bronze
Weight: 4.1 ounces
Diameter: 63.5mm (2½ inches)