Anna Harrison First Spouse Gold Coins
Anna Harrison First Spouse Gold Coins are the ninth commemoratives issued in the series of coins to honor American First Ladies, and the first set of coins in 2009. The United States Mint released the $10 coins on March 5, 2009.
The one-half ounce coins are struck from 24-karat gold and were first issued at a price of $629.00 for the proof version and $616.00 for the uncirculated option. The average weekly price of gold, as illustrated in the First Spouse Gold Price Grid, will dictate the prices each week.
In total, both coins combined have a maximum mintage of 40,000 as outlined in the the Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005 — the law that authorized the series.
The Anna Harrison First Spouse Gold Coin’s obverse (heads) side depicts a portrait of her designed by Donna Weaver and sculpted by Joseph Menna. The reverse, designed by Thomas Cleveland and sculpted by Charles Vickers, depicts Mrs. Harrison sharing her passion for teaching with her students.
Anna Harrison Biography (1775-1864)
Anna Harrison would be known as the only First Lady who was still alive during her husband’s tenure as President, but to have never actually lived in the White House with him. She would, however, be the first wife of a President to actually have received extensive formal education. Her life was spent mostly in the frontier of the growing United States of America, and would be centered on family and church.
The birth of Anna on the 25th of July, 1775 to Anna Tuthill Symmes and John Cleeves Symmes would be a tragic one, as her mother would die as a result of complications from it. John would raise his daughter himself for the next few years, but as an officer in the Continental Army, this would prove to be problematic. With Long Island as his destination, he donned a British uniform to sneak his daughter across the British lines to take her to her maternal grandparents who would assume the job of raising her for several years.
It was in her grandparents’ care that she received an excellent formal education. At the age of 19, she rejoined her father when he moved to the frontier of what was known then as the Northwest Territory (a vast area consisting of land on the south and west of the Great Lakes). In this remote area, she met and married William Henry Harrison on November 25, 1795. Harrison was only 22, but by then known to be an extremely experienced Lieutenant in the wars against the Indians of the area. Anna’s father initially disproved of the marriage because he did not want his daughter to have to suffer the life of a poor soldier’s wife, but time would change his mind.
William resigned from the army in 1797, and began his long political career. He would serve in many positions including Secretary of the Northwest Territory, delegate to the United States Congress, Governor of the Indiana Territory (consisting of Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota), commander of the Army of the Northwest and Representative to Congress from Ohio. Anna would stay in the Territory through all of this, even when William would be serving in Washington D.C. She preferred to continue to take care of her family, and took part in many church activities.
Their marriage was an intimate one, and would produce ten children: Elizabeth, John Cleeves, Lucy, William, John Scott, Benjamin, Mary, Carter, Anna and James. Producing this many offspring would give Anna the distinction of being the First Lady giving birth to the most children, but would also take a toll on her health. A few of the children would not reach adulthood, and ironically with her health, Anna would outlive all but one of them.
In 1840, her husband William was elected as the 9th President of the United States. While Anna was proud of her husband, she also knew the frontier was where William preferred to be when she stated:
"I wish that my husband’s friends had left him where he is, happy and contented in retirement. "
Too ill to travel at the time, Anna did not join her husband on the trip to Washington, but instead sent her daughter-in-law Jane Irwin Harrison to act as hostess until spring, when she would join them. Jane was widowed a few years before when her husband William Henry Harrison Jr. died after suffering years of alcoholism.
Anna was in the preparation for joining the family in Washington D.C. a mere month after inauguration, when she received word that her husband had died from complications from pneumonia. She had actually never stepped foot in the White House as First Lady. Surviving another 22 years, she would eventually move into the household of her only living child John Scott. This would, in fact, give her the chance to be of influence on one of her grandsons, Benjamin Harrison. Benjamin would eventually become the 23rd President of the United States, giving Anna another distinction. She would be the only first lady to also be the grandmother of a future president.
Anna died on February 25, 1864 at the age of 88. She spent her last few years still actively involved in the church, and used her influence as the wife of a former president to promote her grandchildren’s interests.
- United States Mint information/order page
- Letitia Tyler First Spouse Gold Coin images
- Anna Harrison First Spouse Medal Images
- Anna Harrison First Spouse Coin Designs
- US Mint press announcement
- US Mint First Spouse Program
- White House Biography of Anna Harrison
- Anna Harrison First Spouse Gold Coin Coming March 5