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History of the Mint

"The Congress shall have the Power . . . To Coin Money."
(Constitution of the United States, Article I, Section 8.)

When the framers of the U.S. Constitution created a new government for their untried Republic, they realized the critical need for a respected monetary system. Soon after the Constitution's ratification, Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton personally prepared plans for a national Mint. On April 2, 1792, Congress passed The Coinage Act, which created the Mint and authorized construction of a Mint building in the nation's capitol, Philadelphia. This was the first federal building erected under the Constitution.

David Rittenhouse Portrait
David Rittenhouse
First Director of the
United States Mint

President George Washington appointed Philadelphian David Rittenhouse, a leading American scientist, as the first Director of the Mint. Under Rittenhouse, the Mint produced its first circulating coins -- 11,178 copper cents, which were delivered in March 1793. Soon after, the Mint began issuing gold and silver coins as well. President Washington, who lived only a few blocks from the new Mint, is believed to have donated some of his own silver for minting.

Discover more United States Mint history

Discover more about the United States Mint’s rich history by visiting our Timeline , Roles in History , Coin Production and Interactive Timeline sections of the website. In these sections you can find brief histories of coins, designs, events, coin production and how the United States Mint has progressed through the centuries. For those interested in a more in-depth look at the United States Mint’s history, visit our Archives section where you can find information and images relating to United States Mint coins, as well as legislation, press releases and excerpts from past United States Mint annual reports.