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George Rogers Clark Memorial Quarter

November 20, 2017 0 Comments

The release of the latest quarter in the America the Beautiful series is always an interesting moment. This popular series is an obvious place for a collector to begin a full collection, and since the series is on-going, something new comes along regularly.

The latest issue is the fifth and last for 2017, and the 40th in the program. It celebrated the George Rogers Clark National Historical Park, in Vincennes, Indiana. The park is situated on the tranquil banks of the Wabash River and it is part of the United States National Historical Park system. It most significant feature is the George Rogers Clark Memorial. This structure, which is a graceful neo-classical rotunda ringed with sixteen fluted columns, is believed to be on the site of Fort Sackville. Certainly the fort was somewhere within the area of the park, but its exact location has never been identified with certainty. President Calvin Coolidge authorized the construction of the memorial, following lobbying by the Daughters of the American Revolution, who had placed a marker on the supposed site in 1905. President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the memorial in 1936.

During the American Revolutionary War, Lieutenant Colonel George Clark was sent by the state of Virginia to protect its interest in the northwest. In 1778 and 1779 he captured British forts in the Ohio and Mississippi valleys, and founded Louisville, Kentucky. He had already driven the British from Fort Sackville, but when he heard that they had retaken it, he marched his forces at full-speed and on February 25, 1779 he retook it for the American cause. Because this fort was held by the American forces, when the Treaty of Paris was drawn up in 1783, American gained control of five states – Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. Without Clark’s heroic efforts these glorious lands would have been left under British control, and today would be part of Canada.

The park itself, whose main function is to preserve the memorial, was founded in 1966. The memorial contains a bronze statue of Clark, and the interior walls are painted with murals telling the story of his campaign. The beautiful building was renovated in 2008, bringing it back to its original glory.

The newly-released quarter has on its reverse (tails) a vigorous design depicting George Rogers Clark leading his armed men across the river to Fort Sackville. Above their heads are the words “GEORGE ROGERS CLARK,” and below is inscribed “INDIANA,” “2017,” and “E PLURIBUS UNUM.” The obverse (heads) has the standing Liberty figure common to all the quarters in the series. The reverse was designed by the New York illustrator, graphic designer and portrait artist Frank Morris. Besides designing several coins for the US Mint, Morris created portraits of Presidents Reagan and Carter and their First Ladies. He is part of the Mint’s Artistic Infusion Program, and his lively, dramatic depiction of Clark is a joy to see. The coin die itself was created by Sculptor-Engraver Michael Gaudioso, who has created the master die for numerous coins.

Clark’s victory at Fort Sackville is considered one of the most heroic actions of the Revolutionary War, and this coin is both a fitting tribute to him and a wonderful addition to this series, which has so much to say about what makes America great.

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