December 16, 2008

A Special Quarter for Washington D.C.

If you live in the United States, you will have no doubt noticed that every quarter has a different design, representing the U.S States and territories. These designs go through a rigorous review, and must represent something that is typical in the area.

States have made some really interesting choice, and the quarter designs are very varied:

-Delaware features a beautifully-branched Oak,
-New Jersey depicts General George Washington and members of the Colonial Army crossing the Delaware River during the Revolutionary War,
-Virginia has three ships, Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery, brought the first English settlers to Jamestown,
-North Carolina has the first successful flight attempt,
-Ohio shows an astronaut and an early plane,
-The Arkansas quarter design bears the image of rice stalks, a diamond and a mallard gracefully flying above a lake (did you know that Arkansas boasts the oldest diamond mine in North America? Why is it not being exploited?),
-The Iowa quarter design features a one-room schoolhouse with a teacher and students planting a tree.

Mayor Adrian Fenty announced the results of a new coin design for Washington, D.C. last year. The coin will be released this coming January 2009.

The Washington Post reported, in June 2008, that a total of 6,089 residents voted for the new coin:

-36 percent voted for Duke Ellington
Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington (April 29, 1899 – May 24, 1974) was an American composer, pianist, and bandleader.

He was one of our own. He was born in 2129 Ward Place, NW, Washington D.C. (in Dupont Circle). At the age of seven, Ellington began taking piano lessons from Mrs. Marietta Clinkscales who lived at 1212 T Street NW (on U Street – and by the way, the place is up for rent for the Inauguration, it’s a weird coincidence).

Ellington went to Armstrong High School in Washington, D.C. This was one of two public schools for blacks, in Shaw. The school closed in 1996. He got his first job selling peanuts at Washington Senators’ baseball games where he conquered his stage fright. Early in his career, he started to play in caf├ęs and clubs in and around Washington, D.C., and for society balls and Embassy Parties. He also had a messenger job with the U.S. Navy and State Departments.

A little later, Ellington left his successful career in Washington, D.C. to play in Harlem, and the rest is history.

A number of places in Washington D.C. are named in his honor.

-33 percent voted for Frederick Douglas
Frederick Douglass (February 14, 1818 – February 20, 1895) was an American abolitionist, women's suffragist, editor, orator, author, statesman and reformer.

Called "The Sage of Anacostia" and "The Lion of Anacostia", Douglass is one of the most prominent figures in African-American history and United States history. In 1872, Douglass became the very first African-American nominated as a Vice Presidential candidate in the United States, running on the Equal Rights Party ticket with Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for President of the United States. In 1877, Douglass bought his final home in Washington D.C., on a hill above the Anacostia River.

He was born in Maryland. He was a slave and never really knew of a stable family life until he was sent to work in the home of a white family at the age of 12, and was taught to read. He managed to free himself, and the rest is history.

Seriously, this guy is amazing, it gives me shivers to read his biography.

-31 percent voted for Benjamin Banneker
Benjamin Banneker (November 9, 1731–October 9, 1806) was a free African American astronomer, mathematician, surveyor, almanac author and farmer.

In early 1791, Banneker assisted in a survey of the boundaries of the 100-square-mile District of Columbia, that Maryland and Virginia would cede to the U.S. Government, in accordance with the federal Residence Act.

There isn’t a lot of good background on him on Wikipedia, but there are a series of interesting urban legends that relate to his photographic memory and keen intelligence.

The coin will also feature the District’s motto “Justice for All” (did you know that was our motto by the way?). Some people registered their disappointment that “Taxation without Representation” did not end up on the coin.

I’m glad Ellington made it on the coin, but I wish the motto was “D.C. - A Little Ghetto but Still a Cool Non-State”.


Anonymous said...

Great motto :)

FoggyDew said...

Duke is a good choice for the coin, unfort my 50 State Quarters albums don't have space for the five new one's they're issuing. Opps.

Speaking of, just looked at those albums, Delaware's has an image of Caesar Rodney on a horse, Connecticut has the beautiful Charter Oak.