Leadership in America: Dilemmas and Opportunities

Making Centsthrough History

“Great necessities call forth great leaders”

Abigail Adams

Maria R. Bevens

United States Leaders

Making Centsthrough History

Are you a collector ofstamps, Star Wars action figures, stuffed animals, dolls, butterflies, rocks, Matchbox cars, or how about coins? Many people worldwide are coin collectors including: The Sixth United States President, John Quincy Adams, former United Kingdom Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and Actress, Nicole Kidman.

How does one learn about history through coins?

Do you know President George Washington supplied some of his own silver (possibly tableware) valued at approximately one hundred dollars to make the first coins minted in Philadelphia in July 1792? Coin collectors or sometimes known as numismatists, are pioneers venturing out to the unknown. One never knows if a penny found on a sidewalk or the gold coin that was discovered by someone restoring an old barn could be the “found treasure” of monetary and historical value. You too can be a “numismatist” by designing a United States coin depicting a United States leader’s obstacles/dilemmasand triumphs. What qualities make a leader? Are people natural born leaders or do they learn to be learners? Your coin will educate others about Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, Shoshone Native American, Sacagawea, Captain John Smith, Powhatan Native American Chief Powhatan/Wahunsunacawh, Second United States President, John Adams, and Second First Lady, Abigail Adams.

The Task

As a “numismatist” you and your team will choose one of the following leaders and entice others about Lewis and Clark, Sacagawea, John Smith, Powhatan, John and Abigail Adams. It will be your job to read required books, research leader through provided websites, and design a coin. When completed, the coin created by the team will consist of the following requirements:

  • Leader’s name and title, if applicable,on coin
  • Leader’s portraitthat identifies theirprofession/quest.
  • Captains Lewis and Clark exploring new territory – holding rifle and journal
  • Represent obstacles/dilemmas
  • Captain John Smith leading the settlers through a number of struggles
  • Symbol/icon/picture/logo representing leader’s triumphs
  • President John Adams an advocate for colonial independence
  • Denomination of coin(one cent, nickel, dime, quarter, half dollar, dollar)
  • Precious metals (copper, silver, gold)
  • Date(s) of important event(s)
  • Mintmarks (P or plain –Philadelphia, D-Denver, S-San Francisco)
  • United States of America, Liberty, and In God We Trust printed on coin
  • Remember - There are two sides to a coin, obverse and reverse

The Process

1.Each team will consist of four students.

2. Team will watch “Birth of a Coin”

3.As a team, choose one of the five readings: (Each team will receive two of

thesame book)

  • Exploring the West, The Amazing Journey of Lewis and Clark
  • Sacagawea
  • Explore Colonial Jamestown (Captain John Smith/Chief Powhatan)
  • John Adams
  • Abigail Adams, First Lady of the American Revolution

4.Partner read, clarify, and summarizeyour team’s chosen book.

5. One student will be the team’s first recorder. Team will discuss and

complete graphic organizer labeled “Book Brainstorm” noted by recorder.

6. Team will research websites.

7. Another student will be the team’s second recorder. Team will discussand

complete graphic organizerlabeled “WebsiteBrainstorm” noted by recorder.

8. Another student will be the team’s third recorder. Team will decide

symbols and wordings that best represent their leader and complete

graphic organizer labeled “Designs” noted by recorder.

9. Another student will be the material handler. Student is responsible to

gather/collect materials.

10. As a team,create a rough draft of the coin -referring to graphic organizers.

11.As a team, create final copy of coin

12. Team will present/display coin to class


  • Leader’s Websites
  • Coin Websites
  • Books/Articles

* Erdrich, Lise. Sacagawea. Lerner Publishing Group, January28, 2003

* Lakin, Patricia. Abigail Adams, First Lady of the American Revolution.Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing,June 20, 2006

* Landau, Elaine. Explore Colonial Jamestown.Enslow Publishers, Inc.,

January 28, 2006

*Sutcliff, Jane. John Adams. Barnes & Noble, July 25, 2006

*Wilt, Vicki Tyler. Exploring the West, The Amazing Journey of Lewis and

Clark. Sundance/Newbridge Educational Publishing, LLC, 2005


The following rubric will be used to grade your “Making Cents through History” project. Refer to this rubric while reading, researching, brainstorming, and designing your leadership coin. Each requirement will be graded between 1 and 10.

Leadership Rubric

_____ Leader’s name/title

_____ Leader’s profession/quest

_____ Obstacles/dilemmas represented

_____ Triumphs represented

Coin Rubric

_____ Coin’s denomination

_____ Coin’sprecious metal

_____ Date(s) of important event(s)

_____ Mintmarks

_____ Words “United States of America, Liberty, and In God We Trust” on coin

_____ Obverseand reverse sides of the coin

Total points


91-100 points - Advanced

81- 90 points - Proficient

71- 80 points - Adequate

61-70 points - Needs Improvement

0- 60 points - Faulty


Fantastic! You have officially become a “numismatist!” You have succeeded in portraying aUnited States leader’s obstacles/dilemmas and triumphs by using your knowledge and creativity to design a United Statescoin. You have enticed others to learn about your chosen leader as well as the great hobby of coin collecting!

Fantasticjob, admirably done!

Book Brainstorm

  • Book Title ______
  • Author ______
  • Leader’s Full Name/Title


  • Leader’s Profession______
  • Leader’s obstacles/dilemmas – What were some of the stumbling blocks the leader faced? Give examples and explanations.



  • Leader’s triumphs – What did leader accomplish?



  • List dates and related events
  • ______
  • ______
  • ______

Student name ______Student name ______

Student name ______Student name ______

Website Brainstorm

  • Website Title/Address ______
  • Leader’s Name/Title ______
  • Leader’s Other Accomplishments – What other beliefs/causes/deeds did the leader feel deeply about?


  • Additional leader’s obstacles/dilemmas – Give examples and explanations.


  • Connection with other people/animals/landscape/landmarks/objects associated with leader.



  • Leader’s triumphs – How did leader’s achievements affect/shape/change others/United States/World?


  • Other significant dates with explanation.


Student name ______Student name ______

Student name ______Student name ______


  • Drawing of portrait/landscape/object indentifying leader’s profession.
  • Drawing representing leader’s obstacles/dilemmas.
  • Symbol/icon/picture/logo representing leader’s triumphs.

Student name ______Student name ______

Student name ______Student name ______

Rough Draft of United States Coin - Obverse

Student name ______Student name ______

Student name ______Student name ______

Rough Draft of United States Coin - Reverse

Student name ______Student name ______

Student name ______Student name ______

United States Coin - Obverse

Student name ______Student name ______

Student name ______Student name ______

United States Coin - Reverse

Student name ______Student name ______

Student name ______Student name ______

The Future

  • President George W. Bush signed two pieces of legislation authorizing gold, silver and clad coins.
  • One of the bills authorizes a silver dollar to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.
  • Civil Rights Act of 1964 Commemorative Coin Act, which calls for up to 350,000 silver dollar commemorative coins in 2014.
  • The other celebrates the 1775 establishment of United States Army with $5 gold, $1 silver and 50-cent coins.
  • U.S. Army Commemorative Coin Act that directs a maximum of 100,000 $5 gold coins, limit of 500,000 $1 silver dollars, and 750,000 50 cent clad in 2011.


December 4, 2008

  • On February 5, 2008, President George W. Bush signed into law H.R. 3432 titled, “Commission on the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade Act.”
  • The law establishes a commission to plan activities commemorating the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.
  • One of those activities is planning efforts for a new commemorative coin.
  • The likelihood of any new coin in 2010 is the very earliest.


July 6, 2009