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Coin Of the Month

Uncovering America's Heritage... Coin by Coin

2002 Louisiana Quarter

This is Goldie the Mint Fish with October's coin: the Louisiana quarter.  This quarter is a good coin for October's coin of the month because it was in October of 1803 that the Senate voted to buy the Louisiana Territory.

President Thomas Jefferson had already bought the Territory from France in April, but the Senate—part of Congress—had to decide if it was okay.  That's because the Constitution didn't say that the federal government had the right to buy new land.  Congress voted "yes."

Louisiana was named after King Louis XIV by a French explorer.  He claimed "all the land drained by the Mississippi River" for France in 1682, and that became the Louisiana Territory.  The French called it "Louisiane" and the Spanish called it "Luisiana," so our name puts the two together to get "Louisiana."

Next year, in 2003, it will be 200 years since the Territory was bought for $15 million.  Of course, the Territory was much, much bigger than the state of Louisiana is today.  In fact, 12 other states or parts of states were made out of the Territory.

The state of Louisiana has a colorful past.  It has been governed under 10 different flags.  It was even a separate country just before the Civil War!

Louisiana's quarter points out some of the features that make it such a special state.

  • Music:  The term "jazz" was first given to music from New Orleans (in 1915), and one of America's first operas took place in New Orleans, Louisiana (in 1796).
  • Geography:  The Louisiana Purchase added more than 800,000 square miles to the United States, making the country almost twice as big.  Near New Orleans, the Mississippi River meets the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Wildlife:  One of Louisiana's nicknames is "the pelican state" because many pelicans live on the coast.  The brown pelican is the state bird, but not many are still alive.

And don't forget Mardi Gras, the best-known carnival in the country!

REVERSE: 2002 Louisiana Quarter
Reverse:  On the Louisiana quarter, you can see a pelican, a horn with musical notes, the outline of the Louisiana Purchase territory, and the legend "Louisiana Purchase."

OBVERSE: 2002 Louisiana Quarter
Obverse:  All the new quarters show the traditional portrait of George Washington, with some minor changes. Place your mouse over the image to see the former design.

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