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Mint Survey Shows Most Americans Can't Name Founding Fathers

Launches Jefferson Presidential Dollar

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Updated August 21, 2007
In conjunction with the release of the Thomas Jefferson $1 coin, a survey commissioned by the U.S. Mint revealed that most Americans are not too knowledgeable on the subject of our nation's Founding Fathers.

According to the Mint's Presidential $1 Coin Survey, only 7 percent of those surveyed could name the first four presidents in order: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Only 30 percent knew that Thomas Jefferson was the third president, but 57 percent identified Jefferson and the main author of the Declaration of Independence and 57 percent knew that George Washington led the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.

Going into circulation on August 16, the Thomas Jefferson dollar coin is the third in the Mint's Presidential $1 Coins series. The George Washington $1 coin premiered in February 2007. The John Adams $1 coin hit the banks in May.

Other highlights of the Mint's Presidential Coin Survey showed:

  • While most Americans know that George Bush (41st president) and George W. Bush (43rd president) hold the distinction of being a father-son presidential pair, only 28 percent know that John Adams (2nd president) and John Quincy Adams (6th president) were the nation's first, and only other, father-son presidents.

  • Only 22 percent of Americans know that there have been 43 U.S. Presidents to date.

  • Only 35 percent of Americans surveyed knew Thomas Jefferson is featured on the nickel.

  • Only 21 percent of Americans know that the faces of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt are carved on Mount Rushmore.

Why Dollar Coins? The U.S. has been issuing dollar coins since 1794 and will probably continue to do so as long as the need to carry "physical" money remains. On April 7, 2000, the General Accounting Office (GAO) reported that replacing all paper $1 bills with dollar coins would save taxpayers $522.2 million per year. A circulating coin, says the GAO, last about 30 years, compared to the average 17 month lifetime of a paper dollar. In addition, dollar coins make it much easier for visually impaired persons to make purchases without fear of accidentally using larger than necessary bills or of being shortchanged.

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