WASHINGTON — Who was the first President born in the United States? The answer may surprise you. It was Martin Van Buren, and on November 13, 2008, the United States Mint will release into circulation a Presidential $1 Coin in his honor.
Martin Van Buren, our Nation’s eighth President, was of Dutch descent and was the first President born a United States citizen. His predecessors were of British ancestry or were born British subjects. Van Buren’s father, a tavern keeper, could not afford to send young Martin to college and instead secured for him a clerk position in a law office. While employed there, Van Buren studied law at night and was admitted to the New York Bar.
“Martin Van Buren rose from humble beginnings to become an influential politician through hard work, an attribute that exemplifies the American spirit,” said United States Mint Director Ed Moy. “We, too, can show our American spirit by using Presidential $1 Coins. They are resilient, practical and 100 percent recyclable.”
The obverse (heads side) of the Martin Van Buren Presidential $1 Coin was created by United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program Master Designer Joel Iskowitz and executed by United States Mint Sculptor–Engraver Phebe Hemphill. Incused on the coin’s edge are the inscriptions “2008,” “E Pluribus Unum,” “In God We Trust” and the mint of origin. Beginning in 2009, Presidential $1 Coins will feature the inscription “In God We Trust” on the coin’s obverse.
The reverse (tails side) design, by United States Mint Sculptor–Engraver Don Everhart, is a dramatic interpretation of the Statue of Liberty, portrayed on all the Presidential $1 Coins.
Martin Van Buren rose through the ranks to become one of New York’s most influential political figures. He was elected Governor of New York before serving as Ambassador to Great Britain, Secretary of State, U.S. senator and vice president. He was elected President in 1837. Shortly after taking office, Martin Van Buren faced the Panic of 1837, an economic depression that plagued his entire administration. He served one term as President.
Van Buren was a shrewd politician and an adept behind–the–scenes organizer, which earned him the nicknames “The Little Magician” and “The Red Fox of Kinderhook.” He is generally regarded as a key influence in the formation of the American political system.
The United States Mint will ceremonially introduce the Martin Van Buren Presidential $1 Coin on the anniversary of his birth, December 5, 2008, in Kinderhook, New York.
To view and download high–resolution images of the circulating Marin Van Buren Presidential $1 Coin, go to: http://www.usmint.gov/pressroom/index.cfm?action=photo#Pres
Background information of the Presidential $1 Coins is available at http://www.usmint.gov/mint_programs/coin/index.cfm.
Lesson plans are available for download at www.usmint.gov/kids/.