An Inclusive Litany

7/28/98

An Associated Press dispatch from Washington, D.C., July 28, 1998:
A senior lawmaker has introduced legislation requiring the Treasury Department to put the Statue of Liberty on the new dollar coin instead of Indian guide Sacajewea. It's not that he finds Sacajewea "objectionable in any way," Representative Michael Castle, Republican of Delaware, chairman of the House Banking monetary subcommittee, said. Rather, he wrote, "the Statue of Liberty would be a far, far better choice" than the 17-year-old Shoshone girl who led the explorers to the Pacific Ocean nearly two centuries ago.
Note that nobody has the foggiest idea what the young woman looked like. The National Organization for Women originally announced their opposition to any change because it would dislodge the honor already awarded to a specific woman leader, Susan B. Anthony (an early and vocal abortion opponent, by the way), in favor of an "Abstract 'Liberty.' " (The unpopular Susan B. Anthony coin, like the Jefferson two dollar bill, is almost impossible to find in circulation.) Later, the Washington Feminist Faxnet attacked the Sacajewea plan because it would depict the young Indian woman with a baby on her back. She was, in fact, six months pregnant when the journey began. "WFF has nothing against kids," the group cautioned, "but a strong woman with a place in history that has nothing to do with motherhood should be shown as an individual. We don't see coins with George Washington or Abraham Lincoln stressing their role as fathers." A General Accounting Office survey later found that Americans would prefer the Statue of Liberty to Sacajewea on the dollar coin by a margin of 65 to 27 percent, but the Treasury Department said it would go ahead with the plan anyway.

[Ed.: I saw a handful of the coins after they were released, but none thereafter.]

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