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2008 First Spouse Gold Coin Renderings Released

Photo used courtesy of United States Mint

The United States is honoring our Nation’s first spouses by issuing one-half ounce $10 gold coins featuring their images, in the order that they served as first spouse. The 2008 First Spouse Gold Coins feature Elizabeth Monroe, Louisa Adams, Andrew Jackson’s Liberty, and Martin Van Buren’s Liberty.

The First Spouse Gold Coin obverse features portraits of the Nation’s first spouses, however when a president served without a first spouse, as did Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren, an obverse image emblematic of Liberty is depicted from a circulating coin of that era. This year, there are two “Liberty” obverses.

Below is a brief biography of Elizabeth Monroe and Louisa Adams along with descriptions of the two Liberty obverses selected for Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren”spouses”

Elizabeth Monroe – First Lady, 1817–1825

Elizabeth Kortright was born in New York City in 1768 and married James Monroe at age 17. The family made their home in Virginia, but spent several years overseas while James Madison served as U.S. Foreign Minister to Great Britain, France, and Spain. She became a popular figure in France, where she was affectionately called la belle Americane because of her beauty and style.

Her time spent in European diplomatic circles influenced her sense of proper protocol for the White House, to which she brought a European stateliness and formality. Their youngest daughter, Maria, was the first presidential child to be married in the White House, in a small, private ceremony. When Elizabeth and James Monroe left the White House, they returned to Oak Hill, the family estate in Virginia, where she lived for the remainder of her life.

Louisa Adams – First Lady, 1825–1829

The only first lady to be born outside the U.S., Louisa Catherine Johnson was born in 1775 in London to an American father and British mother. The family moved to France when she was three, where she completed her education. She met John Quincy Adams while he was serving in a diplomatic post in London and they married in 1797. Her first time on American soil came in 1801 when John Quincy was called back from diplomatic service by President Jefferson. She finally met her in-laws, former president John Adams and the formidable Abigail Adams, at that time.

Louisa Adams was an accomplished musician whose talents included singing, playing the harp and piano, and composing. A prolific author, she penned both poetry and drama. She authored a play titled Suspicion, or Persecuted Innocence while she served as first lady, in which she stressed the strengths of women. She was the first first lady to write her memoirs, entitled Adventures of a Nobody.

Andrew Jackson’s Liberty First Spouse, 1829–1837

The Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005 contains a provision to provide continuity of the First Spouse Gold Coin Program during those times in which a president served without a first spouse. This provision applies to Andrew Jackson, whose wife Rachel died in December 1828, just a few months before his presidential inauguration.

For Andrew Jackson’s “spouse”, the selected image appeared on the Capped Bust, Lettered Edge Half-Dollar coin from 1807–1836, and was originally executed by United States Mint Engraver John Reich.

Martin Van Buren’s Liberty First Spouse, 1837–1841

Martin Van Buren’s wife Hannah died in 1819. Having been married in 1807, Van Buren was a widower for 18 years when he became president in 1837.

For Martin Van Buren’s “spouse”, the selected image appeared on the Liberty Seated Dime coin from 1837–1891, and was originally executed by United States Mint Engraver Christian Gobrecht

More information on the First Spouse Program and other news issues for 2008 can be found on the US Mint Web site at www.usmint.gov

About the Author

Since Congress created the United States Mint on April 2, 1792 the primary mission of the United States Mint is to produce an adequate volume of circulating coinage for the nation. As a self-funded agency, the United States Mint turns revenues beyond its operating expenses over to the General Fund of the Treasury.Other responsibilities, include: Maintaining physical custody and protection of the Nation's $100 billion of U.S. gold and silver assets, Manufacturing and selling platinum, gold, and silver bullion coins,Overseeing of production facilities in Denver, Philadelphia, San Francisco and West Point, as well as the U.S. Bullion Depository at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

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