In 1607, The Virginia Company of London sent three ships to the New World to start a colony. The Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery brought more than 100 settlers to the place that would become Jamestown. The survival of this colony is a major milestone in the history of the United States of America. The seeds of our nation's laws, government, and cultural diversity were planted here.
Four hundred years later, Jamestown and its founding are remembered on two commemorative coins from the United States Mint: a one-dollar silver coin and a five-dollar gold coin. Together, they make the Jamestown 400th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Program.
The front of the dollar coin shows people from three of the cultures that came together at Jamestown. The back shows the three ships that carried the first settlers from England to Jamestown. A full-sized replica of the Godspeed sailed to Philadelphia in 2007, where these coin designs were unveiled.
The front of the five-dollar coin shows what Captain John Smith might have looked like talking with an American Indian. The back pictures the Jamestown Memorial Church, the only building from the original settlement whose foundation is still standing.
Some of the money from the sale of these coins will go to Jamestown for its anniversary celebration and to preserve and improve the town as a historic treasure. Archaeologists searching the area have found many clues to what life was like in this, the first successful English colony in North America.
Strength, courage, determination...all were shown by the African-American students who went to Little Rock Central High School in 1957. They were the first black students to attend the previously all-white school, and the task was not easy.
Congress had declared in 1954 that school segregation (separation of students by race) was unconstitutional. But all schools did not cooperate with the ruling right away. The events at the high school in Little Rock tested the resolve of people on both sides of the issue, but it was a major step toward integrating every classroom in the land of the free.
For the second commemorative coin program of 2007, Congress and the President have directed the United States Mint to make this silver dollar in two versions: proof and uncirculated. This year (2007) is the 50th anniversary of these events in Little Rock, Arkansas.
On the front of the coin, the feet of the group that came to be known as the "Little Rock Nine" are shown as they walk to school accompanied by an armed soldier. Nine stars line the top of the image, symbolizing the nine students. The phrase "Desegregation in Education" points out the issue that made this walk to school so important.
The back shows the Little Rock Central High School building, now a national historic site.
A surcharge (a charge over the face value of the coin) goes to the Secretary of the Interior. The secretary is to use these funds to protect, preserve, and interpret the resources and stories that have to do with historic Little Rock Central High School and the surrounding area.
With this coin we recognize that, as these students walked to school, equality in our country came one step closer.
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