2008 First Spouse Gold Coin Renderings
The United States is honoring our Nation’s first spouses
by issuing one-half ounce $10 gold coins featuring their
images, in the order that they served as first spouse. The
2008 First Spouse Gold Coins feature Elizabeth Monroe,
Louisa Adams, Andrew Jackson’s Liberty, and Martin Van
The First Spouse Gold Coin obverse features portraits of
the Nation’s first spouses, however when a president served
without a first spouse, as did Andrew Jackson and Martin Van
Buren, an obverse image emblematic of Liberty is depicted
from a circulating coin of that era. This year, there are
two “Liberty” obverses.
Below is a brief biography of Elizabeth Monroe and Louisa
Adams along with descriptions of the two Liberty obverses
selected for Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren”spouses”
Elizabeth Monroe - First Lady, 1817–1825
Elizabeth Kortright was born in New York City in 1768 and
married James Monroe at age 17. The family made their home
in Virginia, but spent several years overseas while James
Madison served as U.S. Foreign Minister to Great Britain,
France, and Spain. She became a popular figure in France,
where she was affectionately called la belle Americane
because of her beauty and style.
Her time spent in European diplomatic circles influenced
her sense of proper protocol for the White House, to which
she brought a European stateliness and formality. Their
youngest daughter, Maria, was the first presidential child
to be married in the White House, in a small, private
ceremony. When Elizabeth and James Monroe left the White
House, they returned to Oak Hill, the family estate in
Virginia, where she lived for the remainder of her life.
Louisa Adams - First Lady, 1825–1829
The only first lady to be born outside the U.S., Louisa
Catherine Johnson was born in 1775 in London to an American
father and British mother. The family moved to France when
she was three, where she completed her education. She met
John Quincy Adams while he was serving in a diplomatic post
in London and they married in 1797. Her first time on
American soil came in 1801 when John Quincy was called back
from diplomatic service by President Jefferson. She finally
met her in-laws, former president John Adams and the
formidable Abigail Adams, at that time.
Louisa Adams was an accomplished musician whose talents
included singing, playing the harp and piano, and composing.
A prolific author, she penned both poetry and drama. She
authored a play titled Suspicion, or Persecuted Innocence
while she served as first lady, in which she stressed the
strengths of women. She was the first first lady to write
her memoirs, entitled Adventures of a Nobody.
Andrew Jackson’s Liberty First Spouse, 1829–1837
The Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005 contains a provision
to provide continuity of the First Spouse Gold Coin Program
during those times in which a president served without a
first spouse. This provision applies to Andrew Jackson,
whose wife Rachel died in December 1828, just a few months
before his presidential inauguration.
For Andrew Jackson’s “spouse”, the selected image
appeared on the Capped Bust, Lettered Edge Half-Dollar coin
from 1807–1836, and was originally executed by United States
Mint Engraver John Reich.
Martin Van Buren’s Liberty First Spouse,
Martin Van Buren’s wife Hannah died in 1819. Having been
married in 1807, Van Buren was a widower for 18 years when
he became president in 1837.
For Martin Van Buren’s “spouse”, the selected image
appeared on the Liberty Seated Dime coin from 1837–1891, and
was originally executed by United States Mint Engraver