USA Coinage: 1853 - 1856
under President: Franklin Pierce
Franklin Pierce (November 23, 1804 – October 8, 1869) was the 14th President of the United States (March 04, 1853 – March 04, 1857). Pierce was a northern Democrat who saw the abolitionist movement as a fundamental threat to the unity of the nation. His polarizing actions in championing and signing the Kansas–Nebraska Act and enforcing the Fugitive Slave Act alienated anti-slavery groups while failing to stem conflict between North and South setting the stage for Southern secession and the US Civil War. Historians and other scholars generally rank Pierce among the worst of US Presidents.
As the 1852 presidential election approached, the Democrats were divided by the slavery issue, though most of the "Barnburners" who had left the party with Van Buren to form the Free Soil Party had returned. It was widely expected that the 1852 Democratic National Convention would result in deadlock, with no major candidate able to win the necessary two-thirds majority. New Hampshire Democrats, including Pierce, supported his old teacher, Levi Woodbury, by then an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, as a compromise candidate, but Woodbury's death in September 1851 opened up an opportunity for Pierce's allies to present him as a potential dark horse in the mold of Polk. New Hampshire Democrats felt that, as the state in which their party had most consistently gained Democratic majorities, they should supply the presidential candidate. Other possible standard-bearers included Douglas, Cass, William Marcy of New York, James Buchanan of Pennsylvania, Sam Houston of Texas, and Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri.
The United States presidential election of 1852 was the seventeenth quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 02, 1852. It bore important similarities to the election of 1844. Once again, the incumbent president was a Whig who had succeeded to the presidency upon the death of his war-hero predecessor. In this case, it was Millard Fillmore who followed General Zachary Taylor. The Whig party passed over the incumbent for nomination, casting aside Fillmore in favor of General Winfield Scott. The Democrats nominated a “dark horse” candidate, this time Franklin Pierce. The Whigs again campaigned on the obscurity of the Democratic candidate, and again, the strategy failed. Pierce and his running mate William R. King went on to win what was at the time one of the nation’s largest electoral victories, defeating Scott and his running mate, William Alexander Graham of North Carolina, 254 electoral votes to 42. Franklin Pierce (Democratic) got 50.8%, Winfield Scott (Whig) 43.9% and John Parker Hale (Free Soil) 4.9%.
In 1856 election, Pierce fully expected to be renominated by the Democrats. In reality his chances of winning the nomination were slim, let alone re-election. The administration was widely disliked in the North for its position on the Kansas–Nebraska Act, and Democratic leaders were aware of Pierce's electoral vulnerability. Nevertheless, his supporters began to plan for an alliance with Douglas to deny James Buchanan the nomination. Buchanan had solid political connections and had been safely overseas through most of Pierce's term, leaving him untainted by the Kansas debacle. This loss marked the only time in U.S. history that an elected president who was an active candidate for reelection was not nominated for a second term.
Pierce's health began to decline again in mid-1869; he resumed heavy drinking despite his deteriorating physical condition. He returned to Concord that September, suffering from severe cirrhosis of the liver, knowing he would not recover. A caretaker was hired; none of his family members were present in his final days. He died at 4:35 am on October 08. President Grant, who later defended Pierce's service in the Mexican War, declared a day of national mourning. Newspapers across the country carried lengthy front-page stories examining Pierce's colorful and controversial career. Pierce was interred next to his wife and two of his sons in the Minot enclosure at Concord's Old North Cemetery. In his last will, which he signed January 22, 1868, Pierce left a large number of specific bequests such as paintings, swords, horses, and other items to friends, family, and neighbors. Much of his $72,000 estate (equal to $1,300,000 today) went to his brother Henry's family, and to Hawthorne's children and Pierce's landlady. Henry's son Frank Pierce received the largest share.
Currency: Dollar = 100 cents
Monetary System: Penny = Cent, Trime = 3 Cents, Nickel = 5 Cents, Dime = 10 Cents, Quarter = 25 Cents, Half Dollar = 50, Cents, Dollar = 100 Cents, Quarter Eagle = $2.50 Gold, Stella = $4.00 Gold, Half Eagle = $5.00 Gold, Eagle = $10.00 Gold and Double Eagle = $20.00 Gold.
Mint Marks:
C – Charlotte, N.C., 1838-1861.
CC – Carson City, NV, 1870-1893.
D – Dahlonega, GA, 1838-1861.
D – Denver, CO, 1906-present.
O – New Orleans, LA, 1838-1909.
P – Philadelphia, PA, 1793-present (coins without mintmark also belongs to Philadelphia).
S – San Francisco, CA, 1854-present.
W – West Point, NY, 1984-present.



KM#76 Half Dime (5 cents). Year: 1853. Weight: 1.17 g [1.24 g]. Metal: 0.900 Silver. Diameter: 15.50 mm. Edge: Reeded. Alignment: Coin. Mint: Philadelphia, USA. Obverse: Sitting Liberty on shield facing left in the center. Phrygian hat on stick. 13 stars around the liberty head in top section. Date written at the bottom with one arrow on each side. KM#76 type has arrows besides date.

Reverse: "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" in circular form outside the wreath. "HALF DIME" written in the center surrounded with wreath. Mintage: 13,210,020. Mintage Years: 1853, 1853O, 1854, 1854O, 1855 and 1855O. Engraver: Christian Gobrecht (both sides). This coin is commonly known by coin collectors as "Seated Liberty Half Dime with arrows at date". The "O" mintmark is below M in DIME and above the wreath knot. The arrows on both sides of the date mean that the coin weight was reduced from 1.34g to 1.24g.

Christian Gobrecht (December 23, 1785 – July 23, 1844) was the third Chief Engraver of the United States Mint from December 21, 1840 until his death in July 23, 1844. He was responsible for designing the famous "Seated Liberty" designs, which were in turn the direct inspiration for the design of the Trade Dollar. He also designed the Gobrecht Dollar, which was struck in small quantities from 1836 to 1838 and later inspired the Flying Eagle cent.

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