Black Revolutionary War Patriots Commemorative Silver Dollar

Commemorative Coin Programs

Background

Availability For Purchase

The coin was available for purchase from the U.S. Mint from February 13, 1998, through December 31, 1998.

What Coin Commemorates

The coin was authorized to honor the black Revolutionary War patriots and the 275th anniversary of the birth of the first black Revolutionary War patriot, Crispus Attucks.

The Black Revolutionaries

When people think of the patriots who fought for the United States’ freedom, most are unaware that the first patriot to die was an African American man. Crispus Attucks was killed by the British in the Boston Massacre of 1770.

Attucks was the first but not the only African American patriot. More than 5,000 fought in the Revolutionary War–although the liberty they fought for would be something only their descendents would enjoy. In Virginia, dozens froze, starved and died; the 1st Rhode Island Regiment was made up entirely of 250 African Americans. British General Cornwallis was completely fooled by double agent James Armistead, the African American man who stood by General Lafayette’s side when Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown.

These patriots are to be honored in a memorial approved by Congress. The Black Patriots Memorial will be on the National Mall just north of the reflecting pool, between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. This is the historic site of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, an inspiration to generations, both black and white.

Authorization Date

The coin was authorized on October 20, 1996.

Authorized Mintage Limits

500,000 – Included a limited addition young collectors set not to exceed 20,000 sets.

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Recipient Organization: an endowment for Black Revolutionary War Patriots Memorial

A surcharge of $10 benefited the establishment of an endowment to support the construction of a Black Revolutionary War Patriots Memorial.

Commemorative Coin Surcharges

Commemorative coin programs are created by acts of Congress to honor a person, place, or event. Surcharges from the sales of these coins help fund a variety of organizations and projects that benefit the public. Commemorative coins are only available from the United States Mint for a limited time, as specified by public law.

Characteristics

Story of the Design


The obverse of the coin shows Crispus Attucks, and the reverse shows a detail from the new Black Patriots Memorial, to be built on the National Mall. The memorial will honor not only the patriots, but their families as well.

In addition to the coin itself, a young collectors edition and a coin and stamp set were offered. The coin and stamp set featured four postage stamps, honoring four African American patriots: Frederick Douglass; Harriet Tubman; Benjamin Banneker; and Salem Poor.

The obverse was designed by John Mercanti, who has been at the U.S. Mint since 1974. Recently, he has designed the 2000 Library of Congress Bimetallic Ten Dollar obverse and Silver Dollar reverse, the reverse of the Leif Ericson Silver Dollar, and the obverse designs for the George H. W. Bush and the Hubert Humphrey medals. He also designed the Bicentennial of the Congress Gold Five Dollar; the Eisenhower Silver Dollar obverse; the Mount Rushmore Gold Five Dollar obverse; the Korean War Silver Dollar obverse; the 1991 USO Anniversary Silver Dollar obverse; and two of the 1995 Atlanta Centennial Olympic Silver Dollar obverses (track & field and cycling).

Ed Dwight designed the reverse. He is a former Air Force test pilot, an engineer and the first African American to be trained as an astronaut. He holds an MFA in sculpture. He has created a wide range of gallery art, but he has focused on large-scale installations honoring African Americans, including his commission to create the Black Patriots Memorial featured on this coin.

Design Theme on Obverse


The obverse features a portrait of Crispus Attucks, the first patriot to be killed in the Revolutionary War.

Design Theme on Reverse


The reverse features the proposed Black Patriots Memorial.

Obverse Inscriptions

• LIBERTY
• IN GOD WE TRUST
• CRISPUS ATTUCKS 1723-1770
• 1998

Reverse Inscriptions

• UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
• E PLURIBUS UNUM
• ONE DOLLAR

Mint and Mint Mark

Artist Information

Obverse
  • John Mercanti
Reverse
  • Ed Dwight

Related Information

Content last reviewed June 1, 2016

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