New Dollar Coin

This week, the US Mint sent an email alert announcing the new Presidential Golden dollar coin to be available on May 20.

The next Presidential coin in the series honors the 14th President, Franklin Pierce, who served from March 4, 1853 to March 3, 1857.

Born in Hillsborough (now, Hillsboro), New Hampshire on November 23, 1804, he is the only president to date who hailed from New Hampshire. This is interesting considering how the people of today’s New Hampshire approach their presidential elections – both the primary and the final elections in November.

Pierce graduated from Bowdoin College in 1824 prior to becoming a lawyer and public official. But, in his second year at Bowdoin his grades were the lowest in his class. Realizing the error of his ways, Pierce changed his study habits and graduated third in his class. Writers Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow attended Bowdoin at the same time as Pierce. Hawthorne became a close friend of Pierce and later wrote a biography, The Life of Pierce, in 1852.

At age 24, New Hampshire elected Pierce to their state legislature. At 26, he became the Speaker. In the 1830s Pierce represented New Hampshire’s interests in Washington, first as a Representative and later as a Senator. He was known as “Young Hickory of the Granite Hills.”

Pierce married Jane Appleton in 1834. Their first of three children was born in 1836 but only lived three days. Their second child was born in 1839 but died at the age of four in 1843. Their third child was born in 1841, and shortly before his father’s inauguration and before his own twelfth birthday, he died in a train accident in 1853.

In the election in 1852, Pierce won the popular vote by 1,601,117 to his opponent, Winfield Scott’s, 1,385,453 votes. In the electoral count, Pierce won 254 to 42.

As a brigadier general of volunteers, Pierce served under Winfield Scott in the Mexican-American war. During the war, Pierce was badly injured but tried to continue the fight. He collapsed and had to be carried from the field. In later political battles on the homefront, his political rivals claimed he left due to cowardice, but in the war Pierce returned to lead his brigade which ultimately helped capture Mexico City.

During his inauguration, Pierce became the first president to “affirm” his oath of office using a law book rather than “swearing” on a bible.

Pierce was the first president to give his inaugural speech, 3,319 words, entirely from memory without any notes or technology helping him.

Pierce was the first president to have a Christmas Tree in the White House, sadly without his children to enjoy.

During his presidency, Pierce added a central heating system and bathroom facilities with hot and cold running water to the White House.

Pierce was the only President to have no turnover in his cabinet. He was also the only sitting president who wanted but did not win his party’s nomination to run for a second term. Instead, his party chose Buchanan (who won) to run in the next election.

References for the above and other interesting information about Pierce can be found on these web pages:

White House Presidential Pages

Wikipedia’s Franklin Pierce Page

Internet Library Information on the Presidents

Franklin Pierce University

The Pierce Manse

The Presidential Coin Program offers many learning opportunities not only about each Presidency but also about the men – their lives, their triumphs and their sorrows.

Enjoy collecting these coins either through collectible sets or through pocket change.