One hundred five years ago today the Lincoln head penny was released to the public. The penny was minted and released in 1909 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Lincoln’s birthday. In the early 1900's President Theodore Roosevelt commissioned sculptor David Victor Brenner to design a coin to honor Lincoln, the man Roosevelt felt had saved the United States during the Civil War. Brenner designed the Lincoln profile used on the coin based on a Matthew Brady photograph. However, Roosevelt objected to the phrase “In God We Trust” being inscribed on the coins. Roosevelt thought it was irreverent to put the name of God on money. “A beautiful and solemn sentence such as the one in question should be treated and uttered only with that fine reverence which necessarily implies a certain exaltation of spirit,” he wrote in a letter published in the New York Times. Incidentally, congress had passed an act approving the use of the phrase for coinage on March 3, 1865 when Lincoln was president.
Michael E. Palmer is a writer and photographer based in Alabama.
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