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Coin Of the Month

Uncovering America's Heritage... Coin by Coin

2003 Illinois Quarter

Nero the Mint Police Dog here.  Happy 2003!  I get to start the new year with a new quarter!  The Illinois quarter is new this month...but it's a great coin for January for other reasons.  For example:

  • January 1680:  The French explorer Robert Cavalier came down the Illinois River with more than 30 others and flew the French flag over his new fort at Creve Coeur.  Cavalier's group continued the exploration started in 1673 by Louis Joliet and his men, the first Europeans to set foot in the land we now call Illinois.
  • January 1863:  Abraham Lincoln, the man shown on the Illinois quarter who later became President of the United States, issued the Emancipation Proclamation.  This document was the federal government's first major step in making slavery against the law in the states that had seceded from the Union.  Lincoln freed slaves in the District of Columbia nine months before he issued the Proclamation.
  • January 1865:  The 13th amendment to the Constitution, making slavery illegal in the United States, was finally passed by the House of Representatives.  The House had voted against the amendment the previous March, but President Lincoln convinced most of the representatives that passing the amendment was the right thing to do for the country.

Once the House and the Senate had passed the amendment, all that was left was for most of the states to "ratify" it—that is, to vote in favor of it.  And Illinois was the first state to ratify the amendment.  The 13th amendment became part of the Constitution the following December, Lincoln's proudest achievement as President.

Lincoln was born in Kentucky and he lived in Indiana for a time.  He spent most of his life in Illinois and served in the Illinois legislature before becoming President in 1860 and being reelected in 1864.

REVERSE: Image of Illinois quarter reverse.
Reverse:  This 21st century coin honors the 21st state, the land of Lincoln. It shows a young Lincoln in an outline of the state over city and country scenes.

OBVERSE: Q50 obverse. On mouseover, former quarter obverse.
Obverse:  All the new quarters show the traditional portrait of George Washington, with some minor changes. The bust is smaller and the legends have been moved. Place your mouse over the image to see the former design.

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