First Spouse Coins Released in 2007
Born Martha Dandridge on June 2, 1731, the future first First Lady of the United States married Daniel Parke Custis when she was 18 years old. Martha had two children when her first husband died in 1757.
She married George Washington two years later. For most of the next 40 years, Martha Washington comfortably filled her role as wife of a soldier and statesman.
She and her husband retired from public life at the end of his second term as President. They lived out their lives at Mount Vernon, not far from the capital city that would soon bear their family name.
The back of the Martha Washington gold coin shows the future First Lady sewing a button onto her husband's uniform jacket. During the Revolutionary War, the colonial soldiers appreciated her concern for them, which she showed in many ways.
She set up sick wards for the soldiers. She had the ladies of Morristown roll bandages from their fine napkins and tablecloths. She had the ladies mend uniforms and knit shirts for the men. She even visited the camps of the Continental Army, an example to other officers' wives and an encouragement to the tired, cold, and hungry troops.
was born in Weymouth, Massachusetts, in 1744. Like most women of that time, Abigail had no formal education. But she was bright and curious, and her family encouraged her to use the family's library.
She married John Adams, a young Harvard-educated attorney, in 1764. While they lived in Braintree, Massachusetts, he built a successful law practice.
As the wife of the first United States Minister to Great Britain, she joined him in Europe in 1784. After James became President, they were the first couple to live in the White House, in 1800. Early the next year, Abigail returned to Braintree, where she lived until her death in 1818.
Because John Adams worked hard toward the colonies' independence, he and Abigail were often separated for long periods of time. She stayed in Massachusetts while he worked in Philadelphia. The coin's image shows Abigail writing one of her many letters to her husband.
Adams said that Abigail had as much political wisdom as any of his fellow leaders. He valued her advice as well as her affection and friendship. In one of her now-famous letters, Abigail asked her husband to "remember the ladies" as he helped to set up the new Republic.
Jefferson's Liberty Coin
The Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005 provides a way to keep the First Spouse Program going when a president served without a spouse. Thomas Jefferson is such a president. Jefferson had been a widower for 19 years when he took the office of the Presidency in 1801.
As the Act provides, the front of the First Spouse coin for Jefferson's term features an image of Liberty used on the Draped Bust half cent. This coin was made from 1800 to 1808, during his time in office.
Thomas Jefferson is well-known for is ability to write. Before he died, he named exactly which of his achievements he wanted engraved on the marker of his final resting place.
That resting place is on the grounds of Monticello, his Virginia estate. His monument, shown on the coin behind his chosen words, lists "Author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and father of the University of Virginia."
was born in North Carolina in 1768, though the family moved back to their former home in Virginia when she was still an infant. Raised in Philadelphia as a Quaker, she is remembered as one of the most charming and entertaining First Ladies of her time.
Dolley was a widow when she met Representative James Madison, co-author of the Federalist Essays and often called the "Father of the Constitution." The couple was married in 1794, and during her time in Washington, DC, while her husband served as Secretary of State, Dolley sometimes served as hostess in President Thomas Jefferson's White House. Naturally, she also served as First Lady during her husband's Presidency.
The image of Dolley Madison standing before a large painting of George Washington holding some papers refers to an act of bravery and quick thinking during the War of 1812.
In August of 1814, Dolley Madison was forced to flee the White House because British forces were attacking the city. She had to stop in the middle of preparing a dinner for the President and some of his troops. Before she left, she gathered important papers and the large portrait of George Washington by artist Gilbert Stuart, which was hanging in the State Dining Room at the time.
The dinner was enjoyed by British soldiers just before they set the White House ablaze. Most of the inside of the mansion was destroyed in the fire. But thanks to Dolley Madison's heroic efforts, White House visitors can still enjoy the magnificent portrait of our first President, which hangs in the White House once again.