Pennies for Lincoln

Lincoln's Penny

Reading Comprehension for August 2

Whenever you get a handful of coins, you probably have some pennies. Many people do not like them because they are not worth much. The Lincoln penny has a long history.

When the United States became a nation, one of the first things the government did was make money. The first one cent piece was named after the British penny, but it was designed by Ben Franklin in 1787. The first pennies were made of pure copper, but now they are almost pure zinc with just a small amount of copper.

The first American coins were not impressive to look at. Most of them had an image of Liberty on one side and an eagle on the other. George Washington did not want his face on the money. That was the custom for European rulers, and he didn't want to be compared to kings or emperors.

In 1901, Teddy Roosevelt became president after William McKinley was assassinated. He knew that America was going to be one of the most powerful nations in the world. He felt that American money should be more impressive than it was. He began asking the best sculptors in the country to help.

The centennial of Lincoln's birth was 1909. The year before, Roosevelt chose Victor D. Brenner to design a new penny. It would have Lincoln's face on one side, and two ears of wheat on the other. The wheat symbolized America as the land of plenty.

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