District of Columbia and United States Territories Quarters

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Obverse design of the quarter

The District of Columbia and United States Territories Quarter Program was a one-year coin program of the United States Mint that saw quarters being minted in 2009[1] to honor the District of Columbia and the unincorporated United States insular areas of Puerto Rico, Guam, United States Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands. The islands commonly grouped together as the United States Minor Outlying Islands were not featured, as the law defined the word "territory" as being limited to the areas mentioned above.[2] It followed the completion of the 50 State Quarters program. The coins used the same George Washington obverse as with the quarters of the previous ten years. The reverse of the quarters featured a design selected by the Mint depicting each territory/federal district. Unlike on the 50 State quarters, the motto "E Pluribus Unum" preceded and was the same size as the mint date on the reverse.


A 2003 letter from Virginia Congressman Ed Schrock answering a constituent's query about the proposed program

Although the statehood program was, by legislation, originally intended to include only the 50 states, legislation (District of Columbia and United States Territories Circulating Quarter Dollar Program Act) was signed into law in late 2007 to include the remaining jurisdictions of the nation. A bill had been introduced five times in the United States Congress to extend the 50 State Quarters program an additional year to include the District of Columbia; the commonwealths of Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands; and the U.S. territories of Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa. During the 106th, 107th, 108th, 109th, and 110th Congresses, these bills had passed through the House of Representatives, and even had 34 Senate sponsors for the Senate bill during the 108th; however, none of these bills were passed by the Senate. H.R. 3885, the version in the 109th Congress, passed the House by voice vote in the early hours of December 9, 2006, just before it adjourned sine die; but the Senate adjourned sine die shortly thereafter without considering the bill. The 110th Congress version of the bill, H.R. 392 was introduced on January 10, 2007 by the Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and was passed by the House of Representatives on January 23, 2007.

On December 10, 2007, Puerto Rico-born Rep. José Serrano, D-NY, attached H.R. 392's language to the Omnibus Spending Bill (H.R. 2764) that the House passed.[3] The bill passed in the Senate on September 6; President George W. Bush signed the bill on December 26. The additional six coins to be minted in 2009 were expected to generate renewed interest in the series, generate over $400 million in additional revenue to the Treasury, and lead many publishers to produce new products to accommodate the additional six coins. H.R. 2764 also moved the "In God We Trust" from the edge to the obverse or reverse of the Presidential $1 Coin Program.[3][4]

The 1997 act that authorized the statehood quarter program had originally provided that if the federal district, or any of the territories or commonwealths, became states before 2009, that new state would get a quarter.[5]


or District
Release date
(territory date)
Mintage[6] Design Elements depicted Engraver
Denver Philadelphia Total
 District of Columbia January 26, 2009[7]
(July 16, 1790)
88,800,000 83,600,000 172,400,000 District of Columbia quarter Duke Ellington seated at a grand piano.
Caption: "Duke Ellington" and "Justice for all"
Everhart, DonDon Everhart
 Puerto Rico March 30, 2009[8]
(December 10, 1898)
86,000,000 53,200,000 139,200,000 Puerto Rico quarter A sentry box at Castillo San Felipe del Morro and a maga flower.[9]
Caption: "Isla del Encanto" (Island of enchantment)
Menna, Joseph F.Joseph F. Menna
 Guam May 26, 2009[10]
(December 10, 1898)
42,600,000 45,000,000 87,600,000 Guam quarter An outline of the island, a flying proa, and a latte stone.
Caption: "Guahan I Tanó ManChamorro" (Guam, land of the Chamorro)
Licaretz, JimJim Licaretz
 American Samoa July 27, 2009[11]
(April 17, 1900)
39,600,000 42,600,000 82,200,000 American Samoa quarter An ava bowl, whisk and staff in the foreground with a coconut tree on the shore in the background.
Caption: "Samoa Muamua le Atua" (Samoa, God is first)
Vickers, Charles L.Charles L. Vickers
 U.S. Virgin Islands September 28, 2009[12]
(March 31, 1917)
41,000,000 41,000,000 82,000,000 U.S. Virgin Islands quarter An outline of the three major islands, the bananaquit, the yellow cedar or yellow elder, and a tyre palm tree.
Caption: "United in Pride and Hope"
Menna, Joseph F.Joseph F. Menna
 Northern Mariana Islands November 30, 2009[13]
(March 24, 1976)
37,600,000 35,200,000 72,800,000 Northern Mariana Islands quarter Near the shore stand a large limestone latte, a canoe of the indigenous Carolinians, two white fairy terns, and a mwar (head lei). Hemphill, PhebePhebe Hemphill

Additional notes on individual designs

District of Columbia

The District of Columbia submitted three different designs to the United States Mint for its quarter: one with the District's flag, one depicting Benjamin Banneker, and one depicting Duke Ellington.[14] The District suggested that each of the three designs include either the words "Taxation Without Representation" or "No Taxation Without Representation",[14] both of which refer to the District's efforts to obtain full representation in Congress.[15] The Mint rejected both messages, because of its prohibition against printing controversial inscriptions on coins.[15][16] The Mint said that, while it takes no stance on the voting rights of the District, it considers the messages controversial because there is currently "no national consensus" on the issue.[15] In response, the District revised its designs for the quarter, replacing the text with "Justice for All",[17] which is the District's motto.[15] The District also changed the design with the District's flag to a design depicting Frederick Douglass.[17] Following a vote by District residents, Mayor Adrian Fenty recommended that the Mint select the design that depicts Duke Ellington, while expressing the District's disappointment that the Mint had disallowed the phrase "Taxation Without Representation".[18]

It is the first non-commemorative American currency to depict an African American. Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver were featured on commemorative half dollars struck in the 1950s.

Puerto Rico

The Senate of Puerto Rico approved a resolution in June 2008, co-sponsored by Senate President Kenneth McClintock and Senate Minority Leader José Luis Dalmau, urging the United States Mint to select an image of the Arecibo Observatory for Puerto Rico's commemorative quarter. On December 15, 2008, U.S. Representative José Serrano of New York released the winning design, the second option developed by the United States Mint.[19] This design depicts a bartizan (sentry turret) and a view of the ocean from Old San Juan, a Flor de Maga (Maga tree flower), and the motto "Isla del Encanto", meaning "Island of Enchantment". The Puerto Rico quarter was the first U.S. coin with an inscription in Spanish.[20]


Pictured on the Guam quarter are the shape of the island of Guam, a proa boat, and a latte stone pillar. The inscription "Guahan I Tanó ManChamorro" means "Guam, Land of the Chamorro" in the Chamorro language.[21]

American Samoa

The quarter for American Samoa shows an ava bowl, a fue whisk and to'oto'o staff (symbols of traditional authority), and a view of the coastline showing a coconut tree. Inscribed on the coin is the motto of American Samoa, "Samoa Muamua Le Atua", which means "Samoa, God is First" in the Samoan language.[22]

U.S. Virgin Islands

Pictured on the U.S. Virgin Islands quarter are the outlines of the islands of Saint Croix, Saint Thomas, and Saint John, a palm tree, a bananaquit bird, and a yellow cypress flower, along with the motto "United in Pride and Hope".[23]

Northern Mariana Islands

The quarter for the Northern Mariana Islands depicts the sea shore, with a latte stone, two fairy terns, a Carolinian canoe, and a mwar (head lei).[24]

See also


  1. ^ U.S. Mint: District of Columbia and United States Territories Quarter Program (Accessed 2009-01-09)
  2. ^ Pub.L. 110–161, 121 Stat. 2018, enacted December 26, 2007) – Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008, Division D, Title VI, §622, subsection 7. "Territory defined.--For purposes of this subsection, the term `territory' means the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the United States Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands."
  3. ^ a b Ganz, David L. Quarter Program Adds Territories, Numismaster.com. 2007-12-20. Accessed 2008-06-01.
  4. ^ Pub.L. 110–161, 121 Stat. 2018, enacted December 26, 2007) – Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008, Division D, Title VI, §623, subsection A.
  5. ^ Pub.L. 105–124, 111 Stat. 2534, enacted December 1, 1997) – 50 States Commemorative Coin Program Act, §3, subsection 7. "If any additional State is admitted into the Union before the end of the 10-year period referred to in paragraph (1), the Secretary of the Treasury may issue quarter dollar coins, in accordance with this subsection, with a design which is emblematic of such State during any 1 year of such 10-year period, in addition to the quarter dollar coins issued during such year in accordance with paragraph (3)(A)."
  6. ^ "Mintage figures: United States Mint". Usmint.gov. 2013-06-16. Retrieved 2013-08-02. 
  7. ^ District of Columbia Quarter Guide to the 50 State Quarters Program
  8. ^ Puerto Rico Quarter Guide to the 50 State Quarters Program
  9. ^ Ganz, David (2008). America's State Quarters: The Definitive Guidebook to Collecting State Quarters, House of Collectibles, p.234. Retrieved June 2, 2015.
  10. ^ Guam Quarter Guide to the 50 State Quarters Program
  11. ^ American Samoa Quarter Guide to the 50 State Quarters Program
  12. ^ US Virgin Islands Quarter Guide to the 50 State Quarters Program
  13. ^ Northern Mariana Islands Quarter Guide to the 50 State Quarters Program
  14. ^ a b "District of Columbia Quarter Dollar Coin Design Narratives" (PDF). Government of the District of Columbia. 2008-02-25. 
  15. ^ a b c d Duggan, Paul (2008-02-28). "Mint Rejects Voting Rights Message". The Washington Post. p. B03. 
  16. ^ "BREAKING: U.S. Mint Rejects D.C. Quarter Design". DCist. Archived from the original on 2012-03-20. Retrieved 2013-08-02. 
  17. ^ a b "Revisions to District of Columbia Quarter Dollar Coin Design Narratives" (PDF). Government of the District of Columbia. 2008-02-28. 
  18. ^ Letter from Mayor Adrian M. Fenty to Edmund C. Moy, Director, United States Mint, June 19, 2008, regarding the District's selection of Edward Kennedy (Duke) Ellington for the reverse side of the U.S. Quarter Dollar coin for the District of Columbia Archived February 18, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. in news release from the Office of the Secretary of the District of Columbia entitled "DC Announces Results of Online Quarter Vote" Archived December 16, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. Accessed October 7, 2008.
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-12-19. Retrieved 2009-01-09. 
  20. ^ Associated Press (April 3, 2009). "Puerto Rico Gets Some Change: U.S. Mint Unveils Coin with Spanish Inscription", New York Daily News. Accessed December 26, 2010.
  21. ^ Guam Quarter, United States Mint. Accessed December 27, 2010.
  22. ^ American Samoa Quarter, United States Mint. Accessed December 27, 2010.
  23. ^ U.S. Virgin Islands Quarter, United States Mint. Accessed December 27, 2010.
  24. ^ Northern Mariana Islands Quarter, United States Mint. Accessed December 27, 2010.

Preceded by
50 State Quarters
District of Columbia and United States Territories Quarters
Succeeded by
America the Beautiful Quarters
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