This is the first American coin to bear the likeness of a U.S. president and is also the first classic commemorative Silver dollar. The dies were prepared by chief Mint engraver Charles Barber, while the coin itself was released to the public in 1900. This was the third commemorative coin released by the U.S. Mint following the 1893 Columbian Half and the Isabella Quarter. The coin also features French Gen. Lafayette, who was instrumental in the Americans' success during the Revolutionary War. Lafayette was born in 1757 in Auvergne, France, and after learning of the Revolutionary War taking place in what is now the United States, Lafayette in 1777 decided to join the Americans and was appointed major-general and became a member of George Washington's staff. Lafayette and Washington remained close friends for the rest of their lives. Lafayette played a critical part in the war as he secured French reinforcements. The statue on the reverse is similar to the monument erected in Paris that was given to the French by the American people. The coins originally were sold for $2 each to fund the erection of this statue in Paris near the Louvre in 1908.
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