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Charles Gordon Atherton – A Politician Who Proposed Coins

Charles G. Atherton. Image: 19th-century daguerreotype colorized by CoinWeek.
Charles G. Atherton. Image: 19th-century daguerreotype colorized by CoinWeek.

July 4, 1804 – November 15, 1853. Democratic politician. Attorney. Graduated from Harvard in 1822 and admitted to the bar in 1825. Served as Congressman for New Hampshire from March 4, 1837 to March 3, 1843. United States Senator from New Hampshire, serving from March 4, 1843 to March 3, 1849, and March 4, 1843 until his death on November, 1853.

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Charles Gordon Atherton came from a long-line of New England politicians, his family being one of the oldest English families to settle in the region in the 1630s. Atherton’s father, Charles Humphrey Atherton, served in Congress from 1815-1817. His grandfather, Joshua Atherton, was a prominent lawyer who served as Attorney General of New Hampshire and was an early abolitionist. Charles Atherton’s politics were markedly different. He was a supporter of “States Rights” and actively worked to bring disfunction to the Congress on the issue of slavery, imposing a gag rule on any discussions of the topic. Atherton’s efforts and the efforts of the Southern democrats to debate the issue in bad faith ultimately led to the outbreak of the Civil War.

Charles G. Atherton's signature.
Charles G. Atherton’s signature.

Of interest to numismatists, on February 1, 1849, Atherton introduced legislation calling for the coining of $1 and $20 gold coins.

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CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

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