The U.S. Mint rejected designs for a commemorative D.C. quarter Wednesday afternoon because they included the phrase “Taxation Without Representation.”
The Mint nixed the proposed quarter design because it violates a law regarding the selection of state coins, according to a statement released by the Mint. “Taxation Without Representation,” the phrase D.C. hoped to print on the quarter, pays homage to the District’s residents’ call to have a voting representative in Congress. It appears on many District license plates.
The Mint called the design “clearly controversial.”
In 2007, a Congressional act mandated the inclusion of the District and U.S. territories to the 50 State Quarters Program.
The District’s participation in the program followed 10 years of lobbying from groups such as D.C. Vote, a non-profit organization that works to support Congressional representation for Washington.
The program asked District residents to submit ideas for the coin to the Mint and the local government. Kevin Kiger, communications director for D.C. Vote, said the phrase “Taxation Without Representation” was the most popular design among District residents for their coin.
In an interview, Kiger said the Mint’s decision was hypocritical and unfounded, adding that the group has no plans to lobby for the coin any further.
“(This decision) is a slap in the face of District residents,” he said, “It’s only controversial if you see democracy as controversial.”
In 2000, New Hampshire’s state quarter was issued with the state motto, “Live free or die.” Kiger said D.C.’s adopted motto does not differ from New Hampshire’s and “Taxation Without Representation” deserves to be on the District’s quarter.
“I don’t know if there is a difference between their state motto and ours; both were used as rally cries throughout history,” he said.
Stephanie Scott, District of Columbia’s liaison to the U.S. Mint, said the phrase is an educational message that was a part of the lives of D.C. residents.
“‘Taxation Without Representation’ stands as an apolitical and non-partisan motto; a declarative and defining fact about the District of Columbia,” she wrote.
D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty released a statement Wednesday expressing his disappointment with the Mint’s decision. He remarked that the phrase would remain an important part of D.C.’s history regardless of the decision.
“I can think of nothing more unique and characteristic than our status as the only American citizens without full voting rights in Congress,” Fenty said.
The final quarter proposals, which all included “Taxation Without Representation,” also consisted of a symbol similar to George Washington’s family coat of arms, one of the first African-American presidential appointees, musician and D.C. native Benjamin Banneker, and Duke Ellington.
In a statement, the Mint said it is looking forward to working with District officials to “develop narratives that will lead to a quarter honoring the District of Columbia of which the entire Nation can be proud.”
Further, the Mint explained that their decision was based on a selection process being applied to all 50 states.