Uncovering America's Heritage... Coin by Coin
2002 Mississippi Quarter
As you know, I, Inspector Collector, love to inspect coins and learn about the stories they tell. Well, I looked at the new quarter that came out last month (Mississippi) and wondered about its story right away. After all, none of the other new quarters we've seen use only a flower in their design to stand for their state!
Mississippi, our 20th state, is nicknamed "The Magnolia State" because so many magnolia trees grow there. The magnolia is the reason I chose this coin for November, because it was in November that the magnolia was voted the state flower of Mississippi.
In order to choose a state flower, there was a vote, as usual...but guess which people voted. No, not state governors. The voters were Mississippi school children! Fascinating.
Those children back in November of 1900 could have voted for the cotton blossom or the cape jasmine, but more than half of them chose the magnolia. Much later, in 1952, the Mississippi Legislature made the vote final by naming the magnolia as the state flower.
That was after the Director of Forestry had school children vote for a state tree...and guess which tree won? The magnolia tree! No wonder the magnolia gets such an honored place on the state's quarter.
The state gets its name from the great river that borders it on the west. The Chippewa Indian words "mici zibi" mean "great river," and that's probably where "Mississippi" comes from.