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Passed by Congress and signed by then-President George W. Bush, the Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005 sets forth conditions for honoring our nation’s Chief Executives, and a provision of this legislation calls for the recognition of their first spousal as well. The United States Mint is pleased to offer their signature 1-ounce, $10 gold-coin series honoring the spouses that entered the White House along with their elected significant other. Scheduled for release in tandem with their Presidential spouse’s coins, 2016 is the slated to release the latest three coins in the series including Pat Nixon, Betty Ford, and Nancy Reagan.
Introduction to the First Spouse Coin Series
According to the United States Mint Office, the First Spouse Coin series honors the indelible work and rich history of our nation’s First Ladies. This collection highlights the very real moral, political, social, and family support that these First Spouses brought to the Executive Mansion in support of their presidential spouses. Entering into its tenth year of production, the First Spouse series continues honoring the more familiar, modern First Spouses. All First Spouse coins are offered in 1-ounce coins of 24K gold.
Obverse—the obverse side of the coins features portraits of each First Spouse, their name, tenure in office, and the year the coin was minted. Additionally, inscribed on the front of the coin are the words In God We Trust and Liberty.
Reverse—the reverse side of each coin features a distinctive image that was emblematic of the spouse’s life and work while in the White House. The reverse also includes inscriptions bearing the following words, United States of America, E Pluribus Unum, $10, ½-oz, and .9999 fine gold.
Continuity—in cases where the President entered office without a First Spouse by their side, the United States Mint has struck a coin designed to represent Liberty, as depicted on coins used in circulation during that president’s tenure of office on the obverse, while the reverse sports a theme that proved emblematic of that particular president’s life.
2016 Coins Released into Series
Patricia Ryan (Pat) Nixon 1969-1974—First Lady Pat Nixon was an ardent champion of the disabled throughout her tenure in the White House, and she was a constant companion on her husband’s far flung diplomatic missions from his trips to such varied destinations as the USSR, South Vietnam, India, and historic trip to China in 1972.
Elizabeth Bloomer (Betty) Ford 1974-1977—Betty Ford’s bravery in coming out with her story of addiction highlighted the need to shine a light on the dangers of addiction in the country, and her actions spurred an appreciation for the need to reevaluate the way we approached the treatment of mental health issues in the United States.
Nancy Reagan 1981-1989—Ronald Reagan’s First Lady, and lifelong confidant, Nancy Reagan, was on the frontlines in getting out the message to “Just Say No!” when approached to try drugs for the first time. This anti-drug campaign became her signature issue throughout her husband’s two administrations.
2015 Coins Released into Series
Elizabeth Truman 1945-1953—the elevation of Harry S. Truman to the Oval Office also placed the shy “Bess” Truman in the role of First Lady. Her stoic, sensible Missouri counsel helped her husband transition into an office held so long by that American icon, Franklin Roosevelt. A long shot for reelection in 1948, the president and first lady embarked on a whistle stop train trek across America to garner support for his reelection, and that campaign is commemorated on the coin’s reverse side with a depiction of a locomotive wheel.
Mamie Eisenhower 1953-1961—a dedicated military wife to the Supreme Commander of the Normandy invasion, Mamie Eisenhower was a valuable political asset to the president during the 1952 and 1956 campaigns owing to her immense popularity with the voting public.
Jacqueline Kennedy 1961-1963—her well-known love of the arts and language fluency made her a darling of the nation and dignitaries from across the world. Her presence was instrumental in breaking the diplomatic ice on missions to Venezuela, Paris, and West Germany to name a just a few, and was used to excellent effect during the turbulent times of the early Cold War..
Claudia Taylor (Lady Bird) Johnson 1963-1969—an ardent advocate of her husband’s War on Poverty, Lady Bird was instrumental in establishing the popular Head Start program that still exists today. The First Lady inaugurated a beautification project aimed at cleaning up the nation’s capital before expanding to regions throughout the nation.
2014 Coins Released into Series
Florence Harding 1921-1923—Florence Harding took an active role in the nurturing and helping of wounded veterans in the aftermath of the First World War. She was a regular visitor to regional veteran hospitals, and frequently invited wounded servicemen to garden parties at the White House. The first First Lady to be allowed to vote in a presidential election, Florence made registering women to vote a high priority.
Grace Coolidge 1923-1929—devoted to a number of worthy causes and charities, Grace Coolidge’s lifelong passion was in helping the deaf community receive the support, and services that they needed to thrive in the country. As the first First Lady to champion the cause of the disabled, Grace Coolidge was a very popular First Spouse throughout her husband’s six years in the presidency.
Lou Hoover 1929-1933—the first First Spouse to address the nation on the radio, Lou Hoover was a national celebrity as a contributor to weekly radio broadcasts. Indeed, the Lou Hoover commemorative coin celebrates this milestone with a late-1920 style radio adorning the reverse side of this 2014 release.
Eleanor Roosevelt 1933-1945—as the longest serving First Lady in our nation’s history, the twelve years Eleanor Roosevelt spent in the position was instrumental in defining the activist role of future First Spouses. She served as her disabled husband’s eyes and legs to go out among the people, and report on the economic and social condition’s that pervaded the country during two of its darkest epochs, the Great Depression and the Second World War.
2013 Coins Released into Series
Ida McKinley 1897-1901—Ill health plagued Ida McKinley and sharply limited her ability to socialize. Trapped in a prison of her own sickness, the First Lady took to the habit of crocheting bedroom slippers that were subsequently auctioned off for charity. The reverse of this commemorative coin depicts two hands crocheting as emblematic of the thousands of slippers she made and auctioned off for charity.
Edith Roosevelt 1901-1909—Mrs. Roosevelt was responsible for a much-needed facelift to the Executive Mansion. Upon entering the presidency in the wake of William McKinley’s assassination, Edith began a campaign of interior decoration and renovation designed to enhance the public face of the United States’ government.
Helen Taft 1909-1913—one of the primary attractions for visitors to the nation’s capital is the blooming of the Japanese cherry blossoms, which explode in color around the Tidal Basin each year. Mrs. Taft was instrumental in arranging for their arrival to Washington DC. A gift to the American people from the Mayor of Tokyo, the First Lady planted the first two trees herself in 1912.
Ellen 1913-1914 and Edith Wilson 1915-1921—whereas her predecessor, Helen Taft was instrumental in establishing the Japanese cherry blossoms in Washington DC, President Woodrow Wilson’s first wife, Ellen is best remembered for creating the iconic Rose Garden on the White House lawn. Wilson’s second wife, Edith, is widely credited with being the first female president in United States history. Following Wilson’s massive stroke in 1919, his First Lady tightly controlled the access to her ailing husband.
2012 Coins Released into Series
Alice Paul 1881-1885—when the twenty-first president, Chester Arthur, entered the White House in 1881, he had already been a widower for a number of years. Taking a break from the Liberty design that accompanied the administrations of previously widowed chief executives, the United States Mint chose noted leader of the suffrage movement, Alice Paul. Paul, who would lead the fight to gain American women the right to vote, was born during Arthur’s term in 1885.
Frances Cleveland 1885-1889 (First Term)—advancing the cause of working-class women, Frances Cleveland quickly became one of the most popular First Spouses in American history. Indeed, she was the first presidential spouse who required the services of a social secretary to keep up with her many supporters and volumes of correspondences.
Caroline Harrison 1889-1893—Caroline Harrison was an avid painting hobbyist, and brought her love for the craft to the drawing rooms of Washington DC. The First Spouse hosted classes for the wives and daughters of Washington where participants painted china, candlesticks, and platters in decorative floral patterns. Furthermore, Mrs. Harrison first organized and categorized the White House Presidential china collection.
Frances Cleveland 1893-1897 (Second Term)—the only presidential couple to occupy the White House for not concurrent terms, Frances was prescient four years earlier when she had told the incoming Harrisons not to move any thing because they were coming back to power. Mrs. Cleveland’s popularity continued throughout her husband’s second term in office.
2011 Coins Released into Series
Eliza Johnson 1865-1869—Eliza met Andrew Johnson at the tender age of 16, the future president was 17, and they were married within a year. Throughout his career, Eliza encouraged her husband to improve his rhetorical and debating skills to boosts his electoral prospects. While she spent most of her time outside the public eye during her husband’s turbulent administration, she appeared once in an official capacity as First Lady when you hosted a ball for the children of Washington’s elite.
Julia Grant 1869-1877—much like the nation’s first First Lady, Martha Washington, Julia Grant followed her husband on his Civil War campaigns from his victories at Fort Donnellson to his strategic masterpiece over the fortress city of Vicksburg, she was beside him as much as possible as his military star continued to rise eventually landing him in the White House.
Lucy Hayes 1877-1881—fewer White House traditions are as well known and beloved as the Annual Easter Egg Roll. What is not as well-known perhaps is the fact that the event owes its existence to Lucy Hayes who inaugurated the tradition in 1878 after learning that local children were forbidden to continue the practice on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol Building. Several hundred children flocked to the Executive Mansion to partake in a tradition that continues until this day.
Lucretia Garfield 1881—Lucretia Garfield’s residency in the Executive Mansion was curtailed first from her succumbing to a malarial attack that forced her to seek solace at a New Jersey coastal resort to recover from her illness when she heard word that her husband had been assassinated. The country rallied around the woman for her stoic dignity and strength following the murder.
2010 Coins Released Into Series
Abigail Fillmore 1850-1853— a lifelong lover of reading and education, Abigail Fillmore is best noted for her contributions in establishing the Executive Mansion library of which Congress authorized $2,000 on the project. The First Spouse spent hours selecting and arranging the collection, which is commemorate on the coin’s reverse side by showing the Mrs. Fillmore carefully arranging the assembled collection.
Jane Pierce 1853-1857—Jane spent the first half of her husband’s administration mourning the loss of her son who was killed in an accident enroute to his inauguration. The child’s death had a huge impact on the first couple, and historians credit the loss with Pierce’s lackluster performance over the highly debated topics of the day. During the latter two years of his administration, Jane reemerged to join the national discussion over slavery that threatened to tear the nation apart in the aftermath of the Mexican-American War.
James Buchanan’s Liberty 1857-1861—the only president to assume office as a bachelor, James Buchanan’s First Spouse Coin features the image engraved on the Liberty Head Quarter Eagle, which saw circulation between 1840 and 1907. The coin’s reverse side depicts the future president as a young boy working as a clerk in his family’s frontier store.
Mary Lincoln 1861-1865—serving as First Lady during the crucible of the Civil War, Mary Todd Lincoln was a close confident of the president, and had long served as a political advisor and sounding board. The First Lady frequently administered to sick and wounded Union soldiers, and supplied them with food, books, flowers, and wrote letters to their worried families on their behalf.
2009 Coins Released into Series
Anna Harrison 1841—born into prosperity as one of New Jersey’s leading families, Anna spent the bulk of her adult life in the Ohio and Indiana Territories where she aided her husband’s military and political career. A lifelong advocate for children and their education, the coin’s reverse side depicts the First Lady reading to her students.
Letitia 1841-1842 and Julia Tyler 1844-1845—President John Tyler entered the Presidency married to Letitia Tyler. Poor health plagued Letitia and limited the role she was to assume in the Executive Mansion, but her management of the couple’s estate, Cedar Grove, allowed the tenth president to pursue his political goals. Julia Tyler married the widowed president in 1844, and quickly became the darling of Washington social society when she introduced the newest dancing craze, the polka, to the nation’s political elites.
Sarah Polk 1845-1849—the only First Spouse to serve as the president’s personal secretary, Sarah Polk brought incisive political thought and organization to the Dark Horse candidate that swept to electoral victory in the fall of 1844. Owing to the president’s small stature, Sarah began the practice of the Marine Corps Band playing Hail to the Chief upon his entering the room for fear that the diminutive chief executive would be ignored when entering a room.
Margaret Taylor 1849-1850—wife of professional military officer, Zachery Taylor, the president once told a friend that, “Margaret was as much a soldier as I was,” owing to the three decades that Margaret followed her husband during his varied military career. This coin’s reverse side pays homage to the role Margaret played in succoring wounded soldiers returning from the Seminole War.
2008 Coins Released into Series
Elizabeth Monroe 1817-1825—moving into the Executive Mansion in the aftermath of the British burning of the building in 1814, the new First Lady tasked herself with restoration and renovations of the damages structure. Essentially empty when they moved in, the First Couple donated much of their own furniture to outfit the seat of national power.
Louisa Adams 1825-1829—the only First Lady to be born outside of the United States, the nation’s sixth First Spouse was an accomplished linguist, musician, and author. Louisa spent six years in the Court of St. Petersburg along with her husband, the United States Ambassador to Russia, where she helped her husband in his diplomatic endeavors.
Andrew Jackson’s Liberty 1829-1837—just three months prior to inauguration, Andrew Jackson’s wife, Rachel, died from a heart attack that left the seventh president alone and bereft. As such, the Andrew Jackson Liberty Coin features the image used on the Capped Bust, Lettered-edge, Half-Dollar Coin that saw circulation from 1807 to 1836. The coin’s reverse side honors Jackson’s victory over the British in the Battle of New Orleans.
Martin Van Buren’s Liberty 1837-1841—Martin Van Buren had been a widower for nearly two decades prior to taking over the reins of the presidency in 1837. As such, the eighth president coin’s obverse depicts the image that appeared on the Liberty Seated Dime that was widely circulated between 1837 and 1891.
2007 Coins Released into Series
Martha Washington 1789-1797—the nation’s first First Spouse, Martha Washington’s commemorative coin depicts the future First Lady darning one of her husband’s uniform coats. Her presence in the winter camps of the Continental Army at Morristown, New Jersey and Valley Forge, Pennsylvania was instrumental in lifting the battered morale of George Washington’s rag-tag army.
Abigail Adams 1797-1801—blessed with a sharp mind and a savvy political outlook, Abigail Adams is rightly considered the nation’s first feminist, who reportedly told her husband as he departed for the First Continental Congress that he and his colleagues should “Remember the Ladies” in all of their proceedings. Throughout their public life together, the couple maintained a brisk correspondence during their long absences, which is recognized on the coin’s reverse side that shows the nation’s second First Lady penning a letter to her absent husband.
Thomas Jefferson’s Liberty 1801-1809—Thomas Jefferson won the presidency 18-years following the death of his wife Martha. As such, the front of the coin depicts the image used on the Draped Bust Half-Cent coin in use between 1800 and 1808. The reverse side displays the final words that the author of the Declaration of Independence had chiseled onto his gravestone.
Dolley Madison 1809-1817—enshrined herself in the American national consciousness on the night of August 24, 1814 when the First Lady interrupted her plans for an elaborate state dinner upon word that a column of British soldiers were marching on the capital city. Dolley Madison organized the collection and removal of the cabinet papers, Executive Mansion silverware, and most famously saved the Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington, which still sits in the White House until this very day.