Although born in relative prosperity in New Jersey, Anna Tuthill Symmes Harrison lived most of her life as a pioneer in the Ohio
and Indiana frontier territories, following her husband, William Henry Harrison, during his long military and political career.
William was frequently away for long stretches of time, and she cared for their business ventures and their ten children alone.
Relations with the local Native Americans were tense, and the threat of attack was ever-present. Even with these dangers, she was
an able hostess who cooked and served meals for soldiers, dignitaries and American Indian leaders alike. Councils with local
Native Americans were frequently held in her home, and their encampments set up on her front lawn.
Harrison was well-educated for a woman of her era, having attended the best schools for girls in the northeast. In fact, she was
the first presidential spouse with a documented formal education and had a lifelong love of learning. An avid reader, she
especially enjoyed any political journals and newspapers she could find on the frontier.
Before she could arrive in Washington to join her husband at the White House, President Harrison died on April 4, 1841. It was
just one month after he became gravely ill after his one-hour and forty-minute inaugural address delivered in the blustery March
Children and education were central to Anna Harrison's life. On the frontier, she educated her children herself. She and her
husband started the Jefferson Academy (named for Thomas Jefferson) in Vincennes, Indiana, in 1801, for students eight to 17 years
of age. The school charged $15 a year in tuition, but Native Americans were allowed to attend free of charge. Upon moving to North
Bend, Ohio, the Harrisons started a school there as well. The reverse of the Anna Harrison First Spouse $10 Gold Coin depicts
Mrs. Harrison sharing her passion for teaching with her students.
2009 - First Lady Letitia Tyler, 1841–1842
A genteel Southern lady, Letitia Christian Tyler was content to stay in the background tending to her children and household.
She supervised the Tyler family's 1,200 acre plantation, Greenway, in Charles City County, Virginia, for many years.
Although Letitia Tyler was never able to assume the normal social duties of a First Lady because of her poor health, behind the
scenes, she directed the entertaining and household management of the White House. She made only one public appearance while First
Lady, at the wedding of their daughter, Elizabeth. She informally received important visitors, including authors Charles Dickens
and Washington Irving, and enjoyed discussing current events with them. She died in September 1842, eight months after her
Letitia Tyler's success in running their plantation gave husband John Tyler the freedom to pursue his political career. The
reverse of the coin depicts Mrs. Tyler and her two oldest children behind their Cedar Grove Plantation, with the plantation
building and fields visible in the distance. The Tylers were married here in 1813.
2009 - First Lady Julia Tyler, 1844–1845
The young and vivacious Julia Gardiner Tyler took Washington by storm with her wedding to widower President John Tyler on
June 26, 1844. Although she was First Lady for only eight months, she quickly made her mark. James Sanderson's song "Hail to the
Chief" had previously been played in various settings to honor American Presidents, but Julia Tyler was the first presidential
spouse to request that it be played specifically to announce the President's arrival on official occasions. It's a tradition that
continues to this day.
Julia Tyler worked hard to support her husband's political agenda, especially for the annexation of Texas. Julia used her
considerable charm to persuade Members of Congress, a Supreme Court justice and cabinet members to support the cause. After
Congress voted in favor of annexation and the President signed the resolution, he handed the gold pen he used to Julia in honor
of her efforts. She proudly attached the pen to her necklace and wore it on formal occasions afterwards.
Julia Tyler introduced the polka at a White House social event, making it a national craze. The reverse depicts President and Mrs.
Tyler together at a White House Ball.
2009 - First Lady Sarah Polk, 1845–1849
Sarah Childress Polk received an education traditionally available only to the most privileged young women of her time. When she
was 14, Sarah and her sister undertook a month-long, 500-mile journey on horseback from Tennessee to North Carolina to attend the
Moravian Female Academy, one of the best girls' schools in the country. Her studies went well beyond the traditional education
young girls received to include Greek and Roman literature and world history. These academic pursuits provided her with a worldview
that enhanced her political discussions.
Sarah devoted her married life to husband James K. Polk's political career, organizing his campaigns, writing speeches, handling
his correspondence and developing a network of valuable political friendships. She read major newspapers and magazines, and marked
articles she felt most important, leaving them on a chair outside the President's office for him to read.
As First Lady, Sarah Polk instituted many changes in the White House. She and her husband opened the White House twice a week to
all visitors for evening receptions and personally greeted those who attended. In the summer, the Marine Corps Band played once a
week on the lawn for visitors. She also oversaw the refurbishment of the White House, including the installation of gas lighting.
Mrs. Polk served as President Polk's private secretary in the White House, the only First Lady to have acted in that capacity. The
reverse depicts her working in the White House in support of her husband's career.