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US 'Founding Father' Thomas Jefferson Honored with Coin


The face of one of their nation's "founding fathers" will soon stare back at Americans reaching for pocket change.

The United States Mint has unveiled a new coin, honoring the American president who helped charter the course of a young nation still struggling to gain its freedom. VOA's Robert Raffaele has more from Washington, D.C.

At the memorial bearing his name, Thomas Jefferson received a new tribute Wednesday in Washington, D.C. A long line of tourists and area residents braved warm temperatures to be among the first to get the new Jefferson one-dollar coin. The coin features the image of the nation's third president on the front, with the Statue of Liberty on the back.

Thomas Jefferson was just 33 years old when, in 1776, he helped write the Declaration of Independence -- the document that declared the United States' independence from Britain.

During his first term as president, Mr. Jefferson virtually doubled the nation's size when his administration successfully completed the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. And following his presidency, he established the University of Virginia in Charlottesville near his home of Monticello.

Yet despite those achievements, a new survey commissioned by the U.S. Mint found many Americans still do not know much about Mr. Jefferson's place in history.

U.S. Mint Director Ed Moy asked, "How many people do you think knew Thomas Jefferson was the third president? Thirty percent! I'm glad that wasn't his approval rating."

However, some school-age children knew better when quizzed by an actor portraying Jefferson. One student answered, "Your third question is, 'Who was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence?' Thomas Jefferson!"

The Jefferson coin is the third in a series that will feature each of the country's former presidents on a golden-colored coin.

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