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Libertas Americana

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By Douglas V. Gibbs

Author, Speaker, Instructor, Radio Host

Libertas Americana:Medal (coin) made by Benjamin Franklin to commemorate the American Revolution.  It was fashioned after Franklin was asked to create a monument in honor of the Siege of Yorktown.  His idea for the coin was originally outlined March 4, 1782 in a letter to Robert Livingston.  Esprit-Antoine Gibelin Augustin Dupré developed the design on the reverse side of the coin.

NON SINE DIIS ANIMOSUS INFANS, from Horace‘s ode “Descende coelo”, which translates to “The infant is not bold without the aide of the gods.”

Front: Goddess of Liberty – Roman goddess, symbol of the Roman Republic, uncomfortably co-opted by the empire; she was a defender of the Roman Republic honored during the second Punic War (218-210 B.C.).  On the Libertas Americana coin she is depicted with the Phrygian cap (Roman: Pileus), a soft cap symbolizing the granting of freedom to former slaves, of which she never wears.  The cap is on a rod, which is used in a ceremony of Manumission, the act of freeing enslaved people from their enslavers.

Reverse: The infant Hercules represents the United States.  The attacking lion represents the British Empire.  The protector is Athena, ancient Greek goddess of wisdom and welfare which represents France.  The infant is strangling two snakes as he is protected by Athena from the attacking lion.  The image was designed to show appreciation to France for the aid provided in America’s struggle for Liberty against Britain during the American Revolution.

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