WASHINGTON First lady Laura Bush paid tribute Monday to "one of America's most beloved first ladies" Dolley Madison at the unveiling of a coin in Madison's honor.
"America's first ladies have guided, comforted and sustained our nation in times of trial and triumph," Bush said after highlighting the work of several of her predecessors, including Sarah Polk, Edith Wilson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty Ford, Nancy Reagan and Lady Bird Johnson. "At the same time, they fulfilled their ... other very important role and that is as the wife of the president of the United States."
Madison's coin, unveiled by Mint director Edmund Moy, is the fourth in the first ladies coins, the first coin series to honor only women. The series moves chronologically; already in coin are Martha Washington, Abigail Adams and Lady Liberty, who appears in lieu of a first lady for Thomas Jefferson, who was not married at the time of his presidency.
Bush detailed the fourth first lady's tenure in the White House, noting Madison's decorating skills and charm.
"Dolley's skills as hostess helped solidify our new nation's position as an independent, democratic power equal in sophistication to European monarchies," she said.
Carlynn Walker, a fifth-grader at Pearl Sample Elementary School in Culpeper, Va., and Lucinda Frailly, an actress playing Dolley Madison, noted Madison's famous rescue of a portrait of George Washington when the British marched into the nation's capital during the War of 1812 and set fire to the White House. The portrait was hanging in the East Room of the White House where Monday's ceremony took place.
Moy also unveiled the designs for the 2008 series of first ladies coins, which will feature Elizabeth Monroe, Louisa Adams and two symbolic Lady Liberty images to represent the presidencies of Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren, who also did not have spouses while in office.
Information about the first lady gold coins and their bronze duplicates, including how they may be purchased, is available at the Mint's Web site, www.usmint.gov or by calling 1-800-USA-MINT.