- Category: Penny News
Contact: Mark W. Weller
February 12, 2003 — "As Americans remember President Lincoln on his 194th birthday, it is appropriate to recognize his immense contributions to the country and a legacy that continues to enrich us daily," said Mark W. Weller, Executive Director of Americans for Common Cents (ACC). ACC includes more than 50 groups that support continued production of the penny, which depicts President Lincoln's image on the front and the Lincoln Memorial on the back of the coin.
Weller noted that the image of President Lincoln is virtually synonymous with the penny. "In 1909, Abraham Lincoln was the first historical figure to grace a U.S. coin when he was portrayed on the one-cent coin to commemorate his 100th birthday. The Lincoln penny was also the first U.S. cent to include the words 'In God We Trust,'" ACC's Weller said.
Just 40 days before his assassination in 1865 (April 14), President Lincoln gave his Second Inaugural Address, one of the most famous speeches in American Presidential history. In the midst of the Civil War, Lincoln combined compassion, seriousness of purpose, and determinationï‚¾attributes that would serve us well today. "With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right God gives us to see the right, let us finish the work we are in," Lincoln said.
Weller noted the American public continues to have a strong cultural affinity for the penny and Lincoln. Weller cited a January 2003 Coinstar national currency poll that found 71% of Americans believe the U.S. Mint should continue to produce the penny.
Weller also noted that a December 2002 General Accounting Office (GAO) report found 92% of Americans were satisfied with current coin denominations and coin designs. The GAO conducted the study at the request of the Senate Appropriations Committee to analyze public sentiment regarding coin circulation and designs.
"People may view the penny only in terms of its exchange valueï‚¾but Lincoln is a unique cultural and historical figure," said Weller. "It's not just that the front of the penny has had Lincoln's image since 1909, it's what Lincoln did for our nation. He is what we think of as a president," Weller concluded.
Americans for Common Cents is a broad-based coalition of business and charitable organizations dedicated to keeping the penny. ACC was formed in 1990 in response to Congressional threats to eliminate the one-cent coin (www.pennies.org).