LINCOLN COMMEMORATIVE SILVER DOLLAR UNVEILED AT GETTYSBURG
Words from the 1863 Address and Lincoln’s Image Appear on the Coin
GETTYSBURG, Pa. – Abraham Lincoln doesn’t belong just on pennies anymore – in fact, he’s taken a shine to silver.
Today, the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission joined the U.S. Mint in unveiling the 2009 commemorative silver dollar honoring the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth. The ceremony took place at Gettysburg National Cemetery and was part of the annual activities centered on the anniversary of the cemetery’s dedication, as the Soldiers National Cemetery, 145 years ago today.
That original dedication in 1863 has entered history most notably as the occasion for President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address – and so it is particularly fitting that the Abraham Lincoln commemorative silver coin be presented to the public for the first time here.
The obverse, or “ heads” side, of the coin features an image of a bearded President Lincoln with the inscriptions “Liberty,” “In God We Trust,” and “2009"; the reverse, or “tails” side, carries the words “United States of America,” and a banner on which are inscribed the words “One Dollar” and “E Pluribus Unum,” and the signature “A. Lincoln.” Those words surround a laurel wreath encircling the final words of the Gettysburg Address:
“We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.”
“Of all the great Lincoln quotes, none quite has the resonance, especially to the citizens of the United States, as his closing line from the Gettysburg Address,” said Congressman Ray LaHood. “There is no greater definition of the American Democracy than Lincoln’s straightforward yet elegant prose. ‘Of the people, by the people, for the people’ is at the heart of how Americans view their government, and I am pleased to see these historic words commemorated through this beautiful coin."
ALBC co-chairman and Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer finds the quotation particularly appropriate. "Although Abraham Lincoln believed that 'the world would little note nor long remember' his words at Gettysburg, it is perhaps the greatest political speech ever delivered,” he said. “As the nation pauses to celebrate the life and legacy of our 16th president, this beautiful commemorative coin, with its engraving of words from the Gettysburg Address, is a most fitting and proper tribute.”
Holzer, who participated in the Dedication Day ceremonies today, also noted that “the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission is delighted to work with the U.S. Mint to bring this coin to the public."
Indeed, the commission has played a major role in making the Lincoln dollar a reality. The legislation directing the Secretary of the Treasurer to issue 500,000 of the commemorative coins was sponsored by the two other co-chairmen of the commission – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Representative Ray La Hood (R-IL).
“Abraham Lincoln is a true American hero whose enormous courage and strength of character during some of our nation’s most tumultuous times have been sources of inspiration for generations of Americans,” said Durbin. “From modest Midwestern roots, he rose to the Presidency through his intelligence, integrity and commitment to the nation that he loved. As we approach the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth, this commemorative coin is a fitting tribute to his life and legacy.”
The coin, with a silver content of 90 percent, will be offered in uncirculated and proof versions and will be issued only in 2009. The full cost of producing the coins will be recouped from sales, which is through the U.S. Mint. A surcharge from those sales is authorized to be paid to the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission to further its work.
The ALBC Commemorative Coin is sold out. It was available for order on the U.S. Mint’s Web site. The pure silver coin was available as a proof coin (mirror-like background) and as an uncirculated coin (more satiny background).
(updated: Nov. 13, 2009)