hill country observerThe independent newspaper of eastern New York, southwestern Vermont and the Berkshires


News November 2015


Tails, it’s Saratoga

New quarter honors turning point in American Revolution


Contributing writer



The design on the back of the new Saratoga quarter depicts the sword British Gen. John Burgoyne surrendered on Oct. 17, 1777 after the Colonial forces triumphed at the second Battle of Saratoga. The new coin will be launched with a ceremony Nov. 17 at Schuylerville High School. Courtesy photo

Some 238 years after it played a pivotal role in the birthing of a new nation, the town of Saratoga will be honored this month as the U.S. Mint unveils a special quarter commemorating the turning point of the American Revolution.
Sean Kelleher, the town historian, said the debut of the new quarter -- at a Nov. 17 ceremony at Schuylerville High School -- represents a new dimension to the many tributes over the years to the revolutionary battles that unfolded at Saratoga in 1777.

“We’ve had stamps and we’ve had medallions, but we’ve never had a quarter,” Kelleher said. “This is the important story we want to tell about New York.”

The Saratoga coin will represent New York state in the America the Beautiful Quarters Program, a 12-year initiative launched in 2010 by the U.S. Mint that will honor 56 national parks and other historic sites. The Saratoga design, located on the “tails” side of the coin, depicts a close-up of the moment British Gen. John Burgoyne surrendered his sword to Gen. Horatio Gates. Above the image of the surrendered sword is an inscription that reads: Saratoga.

The Saratoga quarter will be the only one to represent New York among the 56 new designs.
“We were selected to represent the state, and we’re very excited about that,” said Amy Bracewell, the National Park Service superintendent at Saratoga National Historical Park. The national park, based at the Revolutionary War battlefield in town of Stillwater, also oversees the Schuyler House historic site in the village of Schuylerville and the Saratoga Monument in the neighboring village of Victory.

“Representing the state is a pretty big deal – and especially for what Saratoga means: the victory, the standing up of American rights, and independence, happening right here,” Bracewell said.

With its Nov. 17 event in Schuylerville, the U.S. Mint will formally put the new quarter into circulation.

“It will be a regular coin,” Bracewell said. “When you get change at the grocery store, you’ll have to check and see if you get the Saratoga coin.”


Defying expectations
After the battles at Saratoga in September and October 1777, British troops laid down their arms at Fort Hardy in Schuylerville, and Burgoyne offered his sword to Gates at a site near today’s Route 4 in the town of Saratoga, about 10 miles north of the battlefield in Stillwater.

The British surrender on Oct. 17 attracted international attention, as other nations began to conclude that the American Colonists might actually win their struggle for independence. In particular, the victory by the Continental Army at Saratoga prompted France, which had already been aiding the Americans, to become a formal ally in the Revolutionary War. Spain also began to lend its support to the Colonial forces.

The surrender is a moment historians refer to as the turning point of the American Revolution and has been immortalized in a painting by John Trumbull that hangs in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

The Saratoga National Historical Park quarter is the 30th release in the America the Beautiful series, and local officials say they hope the national circulation of the coin will bring more recognition to the region and its role in history.

“The coin will certainly raise the notoriety of the battle,” Kelleher said. “It was a very important battle, and it’s what made America. It changed the world, and we don’t always recognize that.”
The ceremony marking the launch of the coin is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 17, at Schuylerville High School. All of the school’s students will receive a free quarter, the Friends of Saratoga Battlefield will sell special commemorative quarter sets, and limited edition sets of the coins will be available for purchase.

Immediately after the event, the public will have the opportunity to exchange cash for $10 rolls of newly minted Saratoga National Historical Park quarters. The event will be streamed live by television station WNYT-Channel 13, the NBC affiliate in Albany.

Circulation figures for the Saratoga quarter were not yet available from the U.S. Mint last month, but production of coins issued earlier this year in the America the Beautiful Quarters series ranged from about 460,000 to 830,000. The quarters are minted at facilities in Philadelphia and Denver.
On the evening prior to the launch ceremony, the U. S. Mint will host a coin forum at Saratoga Town Hall to provide an opportunity for the public to express views about future coins and to learn about upcoming coin programs and initiatives. The forum will be held at 5 p.m. Nov. 16 at Saratoga Town Hall, at 12 Spring St. in Schuylerville.