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Princeton III Gbt - History

Princeton III Gbt - History

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Princeton III

(Gbt: dp. 1,103; 1. 168'; b. 36', dr. 12'9"; s. 11 k.; cpl. 147;
a. 6 4", 2 1-pdr.r, 1 ma; cl. Newport)

The third Princeton, a composite gunboat, was laid down in May 1896 by J. H. Dialogue and Son, Camden, N.J., Iaunched 3 June 1897; sponsored by Miss Margeretta Updike' and commissioned 27 May 1898 at Philadelphia, Comdr. C. West in command.

After aceeptanee trials 7-25 July 1898 off Delaware Bay, Princeton got underway for Key West where she joined the North Atlantic Fleet 27 July at the beginning of the SpanishAmerican War. She was Immediately sent (2 August) to patrol the area from the northern tip of the Yueatan Peninsula to Livingston, Guatemala. After completing this tnission 13 August, she returned to Key West and the Dry Tortugas and remained on this station until departing 11 January 1899 for New York.

Princeton sailed for the Pacific in early 1889. She passed through the Straits of Gibraltar 2 February and transited the Suez Canal 13-17 February, joining the Asiatio Fleet 16 April at Cavite, Philippines. Princeton cruised throughout the Philippines 4-15 May with Petrel, distributing the proelamation of peace with Spain. Later she carried Sen. A. J. Beveridge on a tour of the newly acquired Philippine Territorv.

In late May Princeton commenced blockading the Lingayen Gulf ports of se. Vincent and Musa and extended the blockade to the entire Gulf 18-26 June. During the various local disturbances on Luzon, she landed troops at San Fabian 2-7 November, transported cavalrymen from Vigan to Lingayen, conveyed dispatches, received surrendered arms and carried stores to the Marines at Subie Bay. Princeton took formal possession of the Babuyan and the Batan Islands 10-13 January 1900 and continued to patrol off Luzon 10 February. Princeton was later station ship at Iloilo and Cebu 5 March21 June.

At the time of the Boxer Rebellion Princeton cruised in Chinese waters (26 June-29 November) between Hong Kong and Woosung where she received a draft of men from Buffalo 9 August. She returned 4 December to operations in the Philippines, principally in the Sulu Arehipelago, and remained on duty there until 20 July 1902. Princeton was stationed at Cavite beginning 23 July and called at Uraga, Japan (9

October-18 December). While at Cavite she participated in large-scale maneuvers off the Philippines (29 December-3 February 1903). Afterwards Princeton acted as a survey ship. (13 February-5 April) at Malabug Bay, Zamboanza and Dumanquilas Bay until she departed 13 April for CalTrfornia. Princeton decommissioned 12 June 1903 at Mare Island Navy Yard.

prinGeton recommissioned 12 May 1905 at Mare Island Navy Yard and was attached to the Pacific Squadron. She left 4 June for duty as station ship at Panama City, where she remained until 24 October. On 2 December 1905 Princeton returned to Mare Island Navy Yard and began cruising off the Pacific coast from San Diego to Esquimalt, British Columbia. She escorted Rear Admiral C. Train's remains from Vaneouver to Seattle (22-24 August), assisted Boston (6 9 December) which was aground off Bellingham, Wash., and accompanied California 10-22 September on her sea trials off Washington. Princeton remained on station off the West coast until directed to rejoin the Pacific Squadron 3 January 1907 at Magdalena Bay, Mexico.

Princeton proceeded to Corinto, Nicaragua, arriving 17 March for the purpose of protecting American interests there. She transported troops from Ampala, Honduras to La Union, (12 April) and brought General Bonilla back to Salina Cruz, Mexico (13 April). She returned to San Diego 30 May and decommissioned 3 July 1907 at Bremerton, Wash.

Princeton recommissioned 5 November 1909 at Bremerton and sailed 28 November for Central America for duty with the Nicaraguan Expeditionary Squadron. From 20 December until 21 March 1911 she showed the flag in this area, operating between San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua and La Union, El Salvador. She returned to Puget Sound Navy Yard 20 June 1911 for repairs and alterations. From late 1911 until 1915 she was used as a station ship at Tutuila, American Samoa.

Returning to San Francisco 18 September 1915, Princeton. decommissioned and was laid up until 20 February 1917 when she proceeded to Puget Sound for repairs. She commissioned in ordinary there 16 January 1918 for use as a training ship at Seattle from 9 May 1918 to 25 April 1919 when she decommissioned.

Princeton was struck from the Navy List 23 June 1919 and sold to Farrell, Kane and Stratton, Seattle, Wash. 13 November 1919.

Memorial Ivan Allen III ’60

IVAN ALLEN died in Franklin, Ga., on Sun., May 17, 1992. He was 53. Ivan was president of the Ivan Allen Co., and was an exceptionally distinguished community leader, serving on the boards of BellSouth and Southern Mills, and volunteering his time and energy for the boards of Westminster Schools, the Woodruff Arts Center, the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, the Atlanta Boy Scouts, and the Carter Center of Emory Univ. He was the finest fundraiser in the Southeast, and selflessly donated hundreds of hours to Morehouse College, on whose board he also served, and from which he had received an honorary degree.

Ivan prepared at Westminster. At Princeton, he was a Keyceptor, president of WhigClio, and chairman of the Memorial Fund Campaign. He majored in economics and was a member of Cottage Club. He roomed with Lowance, Tread Davis, Wallace, O'Neal, Oster, Brennan, Williamson, Jordan, Fischbacher, A. W. Karchmer, and Bill James, during the four years, and his interest in others was apparent in college. In recent years, he had been closely associated with former President Jimmy Carter, who eulogized him at the funeral, in the Atlanta Project. He was also centrally involved in the coalition that secured the 1996 Olympic Games for Atlanta, and he was at work as a member of the Atlanta Rotary Club and chairman of the United Negro College Fund. President Carter called him "the finest human being I have ever known." Atlanta has lost a distinguished son, and the Southeast a great leader. Our Class has lost a former president and one of its most beloved members.

Ivan is survived by Margaret Poer Allen, his daughter Amanda, and son Ivan IV, brothers Inman and Beaumont, and his mother and father. The Class of 1960 shares in their grief.

A century ago, the world’s best-known scientist brought his relativity theory to McCosh

Colorized photo: Bettmann Archives/Getty Images

May 9, 1921: Albert Einstein, the most famous scientist in the world, stood on stage in McCosh 50, Princeton University’s largest lecture hall.

He wore a black cloak, creased trousers, and a green knitted tie, and drew imaginary lines with chalk as he addressed his audience, according to the Evening Bulletin of Philadelphia: “The long hair that ended in tight curls and the chalk balanced between his fingers like a baton gave him the appearance of an orchestra conductor.”

The room was packed. The 400 attendees included visiting scientists, curious members of the public, and reporters from major newspapers. They had come to see the man reputed to have overthrown Newton, rewritten the laws of physics, eradicated classical notions of time and space, accurately predicted the bizarre bending of starlight, and had done this with nothing more than the power of his mind.

“Ladies and gentlemen!” Einstein began. He immediately assured his audience that his lecture would have minimal mathematical elements. He then explained the concept of relative motion, something pondered by Galileo nearly 300 years earlier.

“The theory of relativity is so named because this whole theory is concerned with the question of the extent to which any motion is merely relative motion,” Einstein said. “For example, when we speak of a car moving in the street, the motion refers to the piece of ground or surface called the road and this piece of Earth’s surfaces plays the role of a body on which this motion will develop. Thus, the very idea of motion is relative motion, and according to the conception of motion one could equally well say the street moves relative to the car, as we can say the car moves relative to the street.”

Except he said all this in German. (His actual opening words: “Meine Damen und Herren!”)

This was the first of five Stafford Little Lectures he had agreed to give on successive days. The first two were “popular” lectures, followed by three of a more technical nature for scientists. A stenographer took notes in German in shorthand, and she handed these to a Princeton physics professor, Edwin Adams, who then summarized the lectures orally in English. (In 1921 an American physicist had no choice but to be fluent in German, since Germany was then the center of the physics world.)

Einstein’s audiences shrank as the days progressed, likely as people realized that his theories remained incomprehensible even in translation. By lecture three he was speaking in a small classroom, according to The Formative Years of Relativity: The History and Meaning of Einstein’s Princeton Lectures, by Hanoch Gutfreund and Jürgen Renn.

But the Gutfreund-Renn volume explains why the lectures were far more than a momentary status-enhancing chapter in Princeton history. The lectures, condensed from five to four, formed the basis for a book, The Meaning of Relativity, published by Princeton University Press in January 1923 and in print ever since, with Einstein adding appendices over the ensuing decades. Einstein had previously written a popular book on relativity, published in 1917. The Meaning of Relativity became one of the two canonical Einstein texts on relativity. According to Princeton historian Michael Gordin, the geometry used by Einstein to develop his theory was unfamiliar to many scientists at the time, and the new book helped them understand it.

Gutfreund and Renn write: “Neither before nor afterward did he offer a similarly comprehensive exposition that included not only the theory’s technical apparatus but also detailed explanations making his achievement accessible to readers with a certain mathematical knowledge but no prior familiarity with relativity theory.”

Einstein’s theory of relativity was not a singular construct but rather an elaborate edifice constructed over more than a decade. In his “miracle year” of 1905, when he produced an explosion of revolutionary insights, he produced what would later be called the Special Theory of Relativity. He explained that there is no master clock in the universe, nor fixed points in space. No longer could anyone say two events happened at the same time. Simultaneous according to whom?

Einstein’s universe was composed not of three dimensions but four — the fourth being time. He explained the concept of “time-space” in The Meaning of Relativity: “Upon giving up the hypothesis of the absolute character of time, particularly that of simultaneity, the four-dimensionality of the time-space concept was immediately recognized. It is neither the point in space, nor the instant in time, at which something happens that has physical reality, but only the event itself.”

Einstein said the reason experimentalists hadn’t been able to detect the effects of the ether assumed to permeate space was that it didn’t exist. The banishment of the ether hypothesis was a central feature of relativity, and it so happened that a report reached Einstein while he was at Princeton saying that an astronomer at Mount Wilson in California had, in fact, detected signs of the ether. That would have blown relativity theory to bits. Einstein was not perturbed: He knew he was right. He uttered a line that, when translated into English, became one of his most famous: “The Lord God is subtle, but malicious he is not.”

In 1915 he managed to produce the equations that extended his theory to explain gravity, in what he called the General Theory of Relativity. Gravity, Einstein said, reflected the curvature of space and time in the presence of matter. No longer was gravity a spooky force acting at a distance it was built into the fabric of the cosmos.

Relativity captivated scientists immediately, but Einstein did not become a global celebrity until 1919. That was when an observation of a solar eclipse confirmed a key prediction of his theory of relativity: that starlight would be diverted by the curvature of space near a massive object like the sun. The confirmation was announced by the British physicist Arthur Eddington, who had organized an expedition to an island off the coast of West Africa to observe the eclipse. The resulting media sensation was orchestrated by Eddington, and The New York Times published a breathless headline: “LIGHTS ALL ASKEW IN THE HEAVENS: Men of Science More or Less Agog Over Results of Eclipse Observations.”

The world would remain agog in the months and years to come. There was just one major problem with Einstein’s theory: Few people could understand it.

Prior to Einstein’s Princeton appearance, The New York Daily News noted that 650 tickets to the lectures had been requested, and it ran the story under the cheeky headline “650 More People Would Understand Relativity.”

In 1921 the world was still recovering from the trauma and industrial-scale slaughter of The Great War, as it was then known. The planet had also just emerged from a pandemic that left many millions dead.

Daniel Okrent, a historian who has written extensively about the 1920s, tells PAW that the war “threw the world off its axis.” He points to a diary entry of Franklin Lane, the secretary of the interior, from January 1920:

“The whole world is skew-jee, awry, distorted and altogether perverse. The President is broken in body, and obstinate in spirit. Clemenceau is beaten for an office he did not want. Einstein has declared the law of gravitation outgrown and decadent. Drink, consoling friend of a Perturbed World, is shut off and all goes merry as a dance in hell!”

Einstein was a fascinating figure as he walked off the ship in New York carrying a pipe and a violin case. He was youthful still — not yet the rumpled, grandfatherly figure we know from T-shirts, posters, and coffee mugs.

“Unlike the picture of the old man at Princeton with his chaotic mane of hair and his careless Chaplinesque attire, Einstein in midlife was an attractive, impressive man, whose features, eyes, speech, and mere presence aroused and indeed compelled attention,” writes the biographer Albrecht Fölsing.

“He was a rock star whose fame exceeded that of Hawking,” says University of Chicago physicist Michael Turner.

“It helps that Einstein is photogenic and gives good quotations,” Princeton historian Gordin says. “He is a media creation. There are photos of him with Charlie Chaplin, and it’s not a bad analogy — he’s a figure that fits that moment.”

The moment in 1921 was thoroughly modern. Einstein’s physics, as Walter Isaacson noted in his biography, resonated with the modernist movement in art, music and literature: “[M]odernism was born by the breaking of the old strictures and verities. A spontaneous combustion occurred that included the works of Einstein, Picasso, Matisse, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Joyce, Eliot, Proust, Diaghilev, Freud, Wittgenstein, and dozens of other pathbreakers who seemed to break the bonds of classical thinking.”

And so people didn’t really mind that someone had come up with a theory they couldn’t understand.

“I think what’s going on there is Einstein becomes more impressive as a sage insofar as he can’t be understood,” says New York University historian Matthew Stanley. “He’s talking about things so cosmic they’re beyond understanding. The fact that he understands them makes him more extraordinary. Einstein grasps this early on and plays to that.”

Cosmologist Katie Mack *09 of North Carolina State says that people like the idea that “there are these godlike supergeniuses that walk among us. . There’s something about the archetype of the kind of crazy genius, somebody who has that kind of otherworldliness about them. Somebody who is not paying attention to fashion, he has weird hair, he has weird hobbies, he comes up with something nobody can understand.”

The newspaper reporters struggled, with limited success, to translate Professor Adams’ translation of Einstein’s lectures into something readers could digest.

“By specific illustrations with equations he proved that his theory of the end to infinity was correct, as far as can be shown by algebra,” the New York Tribune reported. “The main basis of his belief is that density of matter is not equal to zero and, therefore, that all space is finite, thus disagreeing with Newton, who tried to prove that density of space equals zero and that space is, on that account, infinite.”

The New York Times got closer to the gist of things: “We can no longer think of space, time and matter as independent concepts, but they are interwoven with each other.”

The final lecture incited this headline in the Times: “EINSTEIN CANNOT MEASURE UNIVERSE.” A smaller headline took a stab at an explanation: “Universe Called Finite and Yet Infinite Because of its Curved Nature.”

Einstein did not come to America to speak about relativity. Accompanied by his wife, Elsa, he came to raise money for the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He was invited by, and traveled with, chemist Chaim Weizmann, then head of the Zionist movement in the United Kingdom and later the first president of Israel.

Einstein was passionate in his support of the creation of the Hebrew University and would be present two years later at its inauguration. Amid the anti-Semitism in Germany (some critics of relativity derided it as “Jewish physics”), Einstein, though not religious, was identifying more closely with his Jewish brethren. He viewed his role on the trip as functional but somewhat undignified. He was a showpiece, paraded around in an effort to raise money from wealthy American Jews. He was quite blunt about it:

“I had to let myself be paraded like a prize bull, and make a thousand speeches at big and small meetings,” he wrote to his friend Michele Besso.


Early life and ancestry

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson was born on January 17, 1964, in Chicago, Illinois, to Fraser Robinson III (1935–1991), [5] a city water plant employee and Democratic precinct captain, and Marian Shields Robinson (b. July 30, 1937), a secretary at Spiegel's catalog store. [6] Her mother was a full-time homemaker until Michelle entered high school. [7]

The Robinson and Shields families trace their roots to pre-Civil War African Americans in the American South. [5] On her father's side, she is descended from the Gullah people of South Carolina's Low Country region. [8] Her paternal great-great grandfather, Jim Robinson, was born into slavery in 1850 on Friendfield Plantation, near Georgetown, South Carolina. [9] [10] He became a freedman at age 15 after the war. Some of Obama's paternal family still reside in the Georgetown area. [11] [12] Her grandfather Fraser Robinson, Jr. built his own house in South Carolina. He and his wife LaVaughn (née Johnson) returned to the Low Country from Chicago after retirement. [9]

Among her maternal ancestors was her great-great-great-grandmother, Melvinia Shields, born into slavery in South Carolina but sold to Henry Walls Shields, who had a 200-acre farm in Clayton County, Georgia near Atlanta. Melvinia's first son, Dolphus T. Shields, was biracial and born into slavery around 1860. Based on DNA and other evidence, in 2012 researchers said his father was likely 20-year-old Charles Marion Shields, son of Melvinia's master. They may have had a continuing relationship, as she had two more mixed-race children and lived near Shields after emancipation, taking his surname (she later changed her surname). [13]

As was often the case, Melvinia did not talk to relatives about Dolphus's father. [14] Dolphus Shields, with his wife Alice, moved to Birmingham, Alabama after the Civil War. They were great-great-grandparents of Michelle Robinson, whose grandparents had moved to Chicago. [14] Other of their children's lines migrated to Cleveland, Ohio in the 20th century. [13]

All four of Robinson's grandparents had multiracial ancestors, reflecting the complex history of the U.S. Her extended family has said that people did not talk about the era of slavery when they were growing up. [13] Her distant ancestry includes Irish, English, and Native American roots. [15] Among her contemporary extended family is Rabbi Capers Funnye born in Georgetown, South Carolina. Funnye is the son of her grandfather Robinson's sister and her husband, and he is about 12 years older than Michelle. Funnye converted to Judaism after college. He is a paternal first cousin once-removed. [16] [17]

Robinson's childhood home was on the upper floor of 7436 South Euclid Avenue in Chicago's South Shore community area, which her parents rented from her great-aunt, who had the first floor. [6] [18] [19] [20] She was raised in what she describes as a "conventional" home, with "the mother at home, the father works, you have dinner around the table". [21] Her elementary school was down the street. She and her family enjoyed playing games such as Monopoly, reading, and frequently saw extended family on both sides. [22] She played piano, [23] learning from her great-aunt, who was a piano teacher. [24] The Robinsons attended services at nearby South Shore United Methodist Church. [18] They used to vacation in a rustic cabin in White Cloud, Michigan. [18] She and her 21-month-older brother, Craig, skipped the second grade. [6] [25]

Her father suffered from multiple sclerosis, which had a profound emotional effect on her as she was growing up. She was determined to stay out of trouble and be a good student, which was what her father wanted for her. [26] By sixth grade, Michelle joined a gifted class at Bryn Mawr Elementary School (later renamed Bouchet Academy). [27] She attended Whitney Young High School, [28] Chicago's first magnet high school, established as a selective enrollment school, where she was a classmate of Jesse Jackson's daughter Santita. [22] The round-trip commute from the Robinsons' South Side home to the Near West Side, where the school was located, took three hours. [29] Michelle recalled being fearful of how others would perceive her, but disregarded any negativity around her and used it "to fuel me, to keep me going". [30] [31] She recalled facing gender discrimination growing up, saying, for example, that rather than asking her for her opinion on a given subject, people commonly tended to ask what her older brother thought. [32] She was on the honor roll for four years, took advanced placement classes, was a member of the National Honor Society, and served as student council treasurer. [6] She graduated in 1981 as the salutatorian of her class. [29]

Education and early career

Robinson was inspired to follow her brother to Princeton University, which she entered in 1981. [33] [7] She majored in sociology and minored in African-American studies, graduating cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in 1985 after completing a 99-page senior thesis titled "Princeton Educated Blacks and the Black Community" under the supervision of Walter Wallace. [34] [6] [35]

Robinson recalls that some of her teachers in high school tried to dissuade her from applying, and that she had been warned against "setting my sights too high". [36] [37] She believed her brother's status as an alumnus – he graduated in 1983, [38] before being hired as a basketball coach at Oregon State University and Brown University [39] – may have helped her during the admission process, [40] but she was resolved to demonstrate her own worth. [38] She has said she was overwhelmed during her first year, attributing this to the fact that neither of her parents had graduated from college, [41] and that she had never spent time on a college campus. [42]

The mother of a white roommate reportedly tried (unsuccessfully) to get her daughter reassigned because of Michelle's race. [33] Robinson said being at Princeton was the first time she became more aware of her ethnicity and, despite the willingness of her classmates and teachers to reach out to her, she still felt "like a visitor on campus". [43] [44] There were also issues of economic class. "I remember being shocked," she says, "by college students who drove BMWs. I didn't even know parents who drove BMWs." [29]

While at Princeton, Robinson became involved with the Third World Center (now known as the Carl A. Fields Center), an academic and cultural group who supported minority students. She ran their daycare center, which also offered after school tutoring for older children. [45] She challenged the teaching methodology for French because she felt it should be more conversational. [46] As part of her requirements for graduation, she wrote a sociology thesis, entitled Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community. [47] [48] She researched her thesis by sending a questionnaire to African-American graduates, asking that they specify when and how comfortable they were with their race prior to their enrollment at Princeton and how they felt about it when they were a student and since then. Of the 400 alumni to whom she sent the survey, fewer than 90 responded. Her findings did not support her hope that the black alumni would still identify with the African-American community, even though they had attended an elite university and had the advantages that accrue to its graduates. [49]

Robinson pursued professional study, earning her Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from Harvard Law School in 1988. [50] By the time she applied for Harvard Law, biographer Bond wrote, her confidence had increased: "This time around, there was no doubt in her mind that she had earned her place". [49] Her faculty mentor at Harvard Law was Charles Ogletree, who has said she had answered the question that had plagued her throughout Princeton by the time she arrived at Harvard Law: whether she would remain the product of her parents or keep the identity she had acquired at Princeton she had concluded she could be "both brilliant and black". [51]

At Harvard, Robinson participated in demonstrations advocating the hiring of professors who were members of minority groups. [52] She worked for the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, assisting low-income tenants with housing cases. [53] She is the third first lady with a postgraduate degree, after her two immediate predecessors, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush. [54] She later said her education gave her opportunities beyond what she had ever imagined. [55]

Family life

Michelle's mother Marian Robinson, was a stay-at-home mom. [56] Her father was Fraser C. Robinson III, who worked at the city's water purification plant. [56] Robinson's father, Fraser, died from complications from his illness in March 1991. [57] She would later say that although he was the "hole in my heart" and "loss in my scar", the memory of her father has motivated her each day since. [42] Her friend Suzanne Alele died from cancer around this time as well. These losses made her think of her contributions toward society and how well she was influencing the world from her law firm, in her first job after law school. She considered this a turning point. [58]

Robinson met Barack Obama when they were among the few African Americans at their law firm, Sidley Austin LLP (she has sometimes said only two, although others have noted that there were others in different departments). [59] She was assigned to mentor him while he was a summer associate. [60] Their relationship started with a business lunch and then a community organization meeting where he first impressed her. [61]

Before meeting Obama, Michelle had told her mother she intended to focus solely on her career. [62] The couple's first date was to Spike Lee's movie Do the Right Thing (1989). [63] Barack Obama has said the couple had an "opposites attract" scenario in their initial interest in each other, since Michelle had stability from her two-parent home while he was "adventurous". [64] They married on October 3, 1992. [61] After suffering a miscarriage, Michelle underwent in vitro fertilisation [65] to conceive their daughters Malia Ann (born 1998) and Natasha (known as Sasha, born 2001). [66]

The Obama family lived on Chicago's South Side, where Barack taught at the University of Chicago Law School. He was elected to the state senate in 1996, and to the US Senate in 2004. They chose to keep their residence in Chicago after Barack's election rather than to move to Washington, DC, as they felt it was better for their daughters. Throughout her husband's 2008 campaign for US President, Michelle Obama made a "commitment to be away overnight only once a week – to campaign only two days a week and be home by the end of the second day" for their two daughters. [67]

She once requested that her then-fiancé meet her prospective boss, Valerie Jarrett, when considering her first career move [21] Jarrett became one of her husband's closest advisors. [68] [69] The marital relationship has had its ebbs and flows the combination of an evolving family life and beginning political career led to many arguments about balancing work and family. Barack Obama wrote in his second book, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, that "Tired and stressed, we had little time for conversation, much less romance." [70] Despite their family obligations and careers, they continued to try to schedule "date nights" while they lived in Chicago. [71]

The Obamas' daughters attended the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, a private school. [72] As a member of the school's board, Michelle fought to maintain diversity in the school when other board members connected with the University of Chicago tried to reserve more slots for children of the university faculty. This resulted in a plan to expand the school to increase enrollment. [7] In Washington, DC, Malia and Sasha attended Sidwell Friends School, after also considering Georgetown Day School. [73] [74] In 2008 Michelle said in an interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show that they did not intend to have any more children. [75] The Obamas received advice from past first ladies Laura Bush, Rosalynn Carter and Hillary Clinton about raising children in the White House. [74] Marian Robinson, Michelle's mother, moved into the White House to assist with child care. [76]


Michelle Obama was raised United Methodist and joined the Trinity United Church of Christ, a mostly black congregation of the Reformed denomination known as the United Church of Christ. She and Barack Obama were married there by Rev. Jeremiah Wright. On May 31, 2008, Barack and Michelle Obama announced that they had withdrawn their membership in Trinity United Church of Christ saying: "Our relations with Trinity have been strained by the divisive statements of Reverend Wright, which sharply conflict with our own views." [77]

The Obama family attended several different Protestant churches after moving to Washington D.C. in 2009, including Shiloh Baptist Church and St. John's Episcopal Church on Lafayette Square, known as the Presidents' Church. At the 49th African Methodist Episcopal Church's general conference, Michelle Obama encouraged the attendees to advocate for political awareness, saying, "To anyone who says that church is no place to talk about these issues, you tell them there is no place better – no place better, because ultimately, these are not just political issues – they are moral issues, they're issues that have to do with human dignity and human potential, and the future we want for our kids and our grandkids." [78]

Following law school, Obama became an associate at the Chicago office of the law firm Sidley & Austin, where she met her future husband Barack. At the firm, she worked on marketing and intellectual property law. [6] She continues to hold her law license, but as she no longer needs it for her work, she has kept it on a voluntary inactive status since 1993. [79] [80]

In 1991, she held public sector positions in the Chicago city government as an Assistant to the Mayor, and as Assistant Commissioner of Planning and Development. In 1993, she became Executive Director for the Chicago office of Public Allies, a non-profit organization encouraging young people to work on social issues in nonprofit groups and government agencies. [28] She worked there nearly four years and set fundraising records for the organization that still stood twelve years after she had left. [22] Obama later said she had never been happier in her life prior to working "to build Public Allies". [81]

In 1996, Obama served as the Associate Dean of Student Services at the University of Chicago, where she developed the University's Community Service Center. [82] In 2002, she began working for the University of Chicago Hospitals, first as executive director for community affairs and, beginning May 2005, as Vice President for Community and External Affairs. [83]

She continued to hold the University of Chicago Hospitals position during the primary campaign of 2008, but cut back to part-time in order to spend time with her daughters as well as work for her husband's election. [84] She subsequently took a leave of absence from her job. [85]

According to the couple's 2006 income tax return, her salary was $273,618 from the University of Chicago Hospitals, while her husband had a salary of $157,082 from the United States Senate. The Obamas' total income was $991,296, which included $51,200 she earned as a member of the board of directors of TreeHouse Foods, and investments and royalties from his books. [86]

Obama served as a salaried board member of TreeHouse Foods, Inc. (NYSE: THS), [87] a major Wal-Mart supplier from shortly after her husband was seated in the Senate until she cut ties shortly after her husband announced his candidacy for the presidency he criticized Wal-Mart labor policies at an AFL-CIO forum in Trenton, New Jersey, on May 14, 2007. [88] She also served on the board of directors of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. [89]

In 2021, the former first lady announced that she has been "moving toward retirement". [90] Though she continues to be active in political campaigns, the former first lady has said she is reducing the amount of work to spend more time with her husband. [90]

Early campaigns

During an interview in 1996, Michelle Obama acknowledged there was a "strong possibility" her husband would begin a political career, but said she was "wary" of the process. She knew it meant their lives would be subject to scrutiny and she was intensely private. [91]

Although she campaigned on her husband's behalf since early in his political career by handshaking and fund-raising, she did not relish the activity at first. When she campaigned during her husband's 2000 run for United States House of Representatives, her boss at the University of Chicago asked if there was any single thing about campaigning that she enjoyed after some thought, she replied that visiting so many living rooms had given her some new decorating ideas. [92] [93] Obama opposed her husband's run for the congressional seat, and, after his defeat, she preferred he tend to the financial needs of the family in what she deemed a more practical way. [94]

2008 presidential campaign

At first, Obama had reservations about her husband's presidential campaign, due to fears about a possible negative effect on their daughters. [95] She says she negotiated an agreement in which her husband was to quit smoking in exchange for her support of his decision to run. [96] About her role in her husband's presidential campaign she has said: "My job is not a senior adviser". [68] [97] [98] During the campaign, she discussed race and education by using motherhood as a framework. [46]

In May 2007, three months after her husband declared his presidential candidacy, Obama reduced her professional responsibilities by 80 percent to support his presidential campaign. [21] Early in the campaign, she had limited involvement in which she traveled to political events only two days a week and rarely traveled overnight [99] by early February 2008 her participation had increased significantly. She attended thirty-three events in eight days. [69] She made several campaign appearances with Oprah Winfrey. [100] [101] She wrote her own stump speeches for her husband's presidential campaign and generally spoke without notes. [29]

During the campaign, columnist Cal Thomas on Fox News described Michelle Obama as an "Angry Black Woman" [102] [103] [104] and some web sites attempted to promote this image. [105] Obama said: "Barack and I have been in the public eye for many years now, and we've developed a thick skin along the way. When you're out campaigning, there will always be criticism. I just take it in stride, and at the end of the day, I know that it comes with the territory." [106]

By the time of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in August, media outlets observed that her presence on the campaign trail had grown softer than at the start of the race, focusing on soliciting concerns and empathizing with the audience rather than throwing down challenges to them, and giving interviews to shows such as The View and publications like Ladies' Home Journal rather than appearing on news programs. The change was reflected in her fashion choices, as she wore clothes that were more informal clothes than her earlier designer pieces. [92] Partly intended to help soften her public image, [102] her appearance on The View was widely covered in the press. [107]

The presidential campaign was Obama's first exposure to the national political scene she was considered the least famous of the candidates' spouses. [97] Early in the campaign, she told anecdotes about Obama family life however, as the press began to emphasize her sarcasm, she toned it down. [86] [96]

New York Times op-ed columnist Maureen Dowd wrote:

I wince a bit when Michelle Obama chides her husband as a mere mortal – a comic routine that rests on the presumption that we see him as a god . But it may not be smart politics to mock him in a way that turns him from the glam JFK into the mundane Gerald Ford, toasting his own English muffin. If all Senator Obama is peddling is the Camelot mystique, why debunk this mystique? [97] [108]

On the first night of the 2008 Democratic National Convention, Craig Robinson introduced his younger sister. [109] She delivered her speech, during which she sought to portray herself and her family as the embodiment of the American Dream. [110] Obama said she and her husband believe "that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond, and you do what you say you're going to do, that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don't know them, and even if you don't agree with them." [111] She also emphasized loving her country, likely responding to criticism for having said that she felt "proud of her country for the first time". [110] [112] [113] The first statement was seen as a gaffe. [114] Her keynote address was largely well-received and drew mostly positive reviews. [115] A Rasmussen Reports poll found that her favorability among Americans reached 55%, the highest for her. [116]

On an October 6, 2008 broadcast, Larry King asked Obama if the American electorate was past the Bradley effect. She said her husband's winning the nomination was a fairly strong indicator that it was. [117] The same night she was interviewed by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, where she deflected criticism of her husband and his campaign. [118] On Fox News' America's Pulse, E. D. Hill referred to the fist bump shared by the Obamas the night he clinched the Democratic presidential nomination, describing it as a "terrorist fist jab". Hill was taken off air and the show was cancelled. [119] [120]

2012 presidential re-election campaign

Obama campaigned for her husband's re-election in 2012. Beginning in 2011, Obama became more politically active than she had been since the 2008 election, though avoided discussions about the re-election bid. [121] By the time of the election cycle, she had developed a more open public image. [122] [123] Some commentators viewed her as the most popular member of the Obama administration, [124] noting that her poll approval numbers had not dropped below 60% since she entered the White House. [125] An Obama senior campaign official said she was "the most popular political figure in America". [126] The positive assessment was reasoned to have contributed to her active role in the re-election campaign, but it was noted that the challenge for the Obama campaign was to use her without tarnishing her popularity.

Obama was considered a polarizing figure, having aroused both "sharp enmity and deep loyalty" from Americans, but she was also seen as having improved her image since 2008 when her husband first ran for the presidency. [124] Isabel Wilkinson of The Daily Beast said Obama's fashion style changed over the course of the campaign to be sensitive and economical. [127]

Prior to the first debate of the election cycle, Obama expressed confidence in her husband's debating skills. [128] He was later criticized for appearing detached and for looking down when addressing Romney. [129] [130] Consensus among uncommitted voters was that the latter had won the debate. [131] After Obama's speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, the first lady was found through a CBS News/New York Times poll conducted in September to have a 61% favorably rating with registered voters, the highest percentage she had polled since April 2009. [132]

Obama aimed to humanize her husband by relating stories about him, attempting to appeal to female voters in swing states. Paul Harris of The Guardian said the same tactic was being used by Ann Romney, wife of 2012 Republican candidate Mitt Romney. Polls in October showed their husbands tied at 47% for the female vote. However, Michelle Obama's favorability ratings remained higher than Ann Romney's at 69% to 52%. [133] Despite Obama's higher poll numbers, comparisons between Obama and Romney were repeatedly made by the media until the election. [134] [135] But, as Michelle Cottle of Newsweek wrote, ". nobody votes for first lady." [136]

During her early months as First Lady, Obama visited homeless shelters and soup kitchens. [137] She also sent representatives to schools and advocated public service. [137] [138]

Obama advocated for her husband's policy priorities by promoting bills that support it. She hosted a White House reception for women's rights advocates in celebration of the enactment of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 Pay equity law. She supported the economic stimulus bill in visits to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and United States Department of Education. Some observers looked favorably upon her legislative activities, while others said she should be less involved in politics. According to her representatives, she intended to visit all United States Cabinet-level agencies in order to get acquainted with Washington. [139]

On June 5, 2009, the White House announced that Michelle Obama was replacing her then chief of staff, Jackie Norris, with Susan Sher, a longtime friend and adviser. Norris became a senior adviser to the Corporation for National and Community Service. [140] Another key aide, Spelman College alumna Kristen Jarvis, served from 2008 until 2015, when she left to become chief of staff to the Ford Foundation president Darren Walker.

In 2009, Obama was named Barbara Walters' Most Fascinating Person of the year. [141] In her memoir, Becoming, Obama describes her four primary initiatives as First Lady: Let's Move!, Reach Higher, [142] Let Girls Learn, [143] and Joining Forces. [144] Some initiatives of First Lady Michelle Obama included advocating on behalf of military families, helping working women balance career and family, encouraging national service, and promoting the arts and arts education. [145] [146] Obama made supporting military families and spouses a personal mission and increasingly bonded with military families. According to her aides, stories of the sacrifice these families make moved her to tears. [146] In April 2012, Obama and her husband were awarded the Jerald Washington Memorial Founders' Award by the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV). The award is the highest honor given to homeless veteran advocates. [147] Obama was again honored with the award in May 2015, accepting with Jill Biden. [148]

In November 2013, a Politico article by Michelle Cottle accusing Obama of being a "feminist nightmare" for not using her position and education to advocate for women's issues was sharply criticized across the political spectrum. [149] [150] [151] Cottle quoted Linda Hirshman saying of Obama's trendy styles, promotion of gardening and healthy eating, and support of military families that "She essentially became the English lady of the manor, Tory Party, circa 1830s." [149] A prominent critic of Cottle was MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry, who rhetorically asked "Are you serious?" [150] [151] Supporters of Obama note that the first lady had been one of the only people in the administration to address obesity, through promoting good eating habits, which is one of the leading U.S. public health crises. [152]

In May 2014, Obama joined the campaign to bring back school girls who had been kidnapped in Nigeria. The first lady tweeted a picture of herself holding a poster with the #bringbackourgirls campaign hashtag. [153] Obama writes in her book about enlisting help for her initiative Let Girls Learn to produce and sing the song "This is for My Girls". [154]

Over the course of the Obama presidency, particularly during the second term, Michelle Obama was subject to speculation over whether she would run for the presidency herself, similarly to predecessor Hillary Clinton. [155] A May 2015 Rasmussen poll found Obama had 22% of support to Clinton's 56% of winning the Democratic nomination, higher than that of potential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Martin O'Malley and Bernie Sanders. [156] [157] Another poll that month found that 71% of Americans believed Obama should not run for the presidency, only 14% approving. [157] On January 14, 2016, during a town-hall meeting, President Obama was asked if the first lady could be talked into running. He responded, "There are three things that are certain in life: death, taxes, and Michelle is not running for president. That I can tell you." [158] [159] On March 16, 2016, while speaking in Austin, Texas, Obama denied that she would ever run for the office, citing a desire to "impact as many people as possible in an unbiased way". [160] In the epilogue to Becoming, Obama writes, "I have no intention of running for office, ever," [161] recognizing that "politics can be a means for positive change, but this arena is just not for me." [162]

Let's Move!

Obama's predecessors Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush supported the organic movement by instructing the White House kitchens to buy organic food. Obama extended their support of healthy eating by planting the White House Kitchen Garden, an organic garden, the first White House vegetable garden since Eleanor Roosevelt served as First Lady. She also had bee hives installed on the South Lawn of the White House. The garden supplied organic produce and honey for the meals of the First Family and for state dinners and other official gatherings. [163] [164] [165] [166]

In January 2010, Obama undertook her first lead role in an administration-wide initiative, which she named "Let's Move!", to make progress in reversing the 21st-century trend of childhood obesity. [165] [167] On February 9, 2010, the first lady announced Let's Move! and President Barack Obama created the Task Force on Childhood Obesity to review all current programs and create a national plan for change. [168]

Michelle Obama said her goal was to make this effort her legacy: "I want to leave something behind that we can say, 'Because of this time that this person spent here, this thing has changed.' And my hope is that that's going to be in the area of childhood obesity." [165] Her 2012 book American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America is based on her experiences with the garden and promotes healthy eating. [169] Her call for action on healthy eating was repeated by the United States Department of Defense, which has been facing an ever-expanding problem of obesity among recruits. [170]

Several Republicans have critiqued or lampooned Obama's initiative. In October 2014, senator Rand Paul linked to Michelle Obama's Twitter account when announcing on the website that he was going to Dunkin' Donuts. [171] In January 2016, Chris Christie, Republican Governor of New Jersey and presidential candidate, criticized the first lady's involvement with healthy eating while he was campaigning in Iowa, arguing that she was using the government to exercise her views on eating. [172] [173] Obama had previously cited Christie as an example of an adult who struggled with obesity, a demographic she sought to diminish by targeting children since Let's Move! was "working with kids when they're young, so that they don't have these direct challenges when they get older." [174] In February, Senator Ted Cruz said he would end Obama's health policies and return french fries to school cafeterias if his wife was First Lady. [175]

LGBT rights

In the 2008 US presidential campaign, Obama boasted to gay Democratic groups of her husband's record on LGBT rights: his support of the Illinois Human Rights Act, the Illinois gender violence act, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell, and full repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, civil unions along with hate crimes protection for sexual orientation and gender identity and renewed effort to fight HIV and AIDS. They have both opposed amendments proposed to ban same-sex marriage in the federal, California, and Florida constitutions. She said the US Supreme Court delivered justice in the Lawrence v. Texas case and drew a connection between the struggles for gay rights and civil rights by saying, "We are all only here because of those who marched and bled and died, from Selma to Stonewall, in the pursuit of a more perfect union." [176] [177] [178]

After the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell on September 20, 2011, Obama included openly gay service members in her national military families initiative. [179] On May 9, 2012, Barack and Michelle Obama came out publicly in favor of same-sex marriage. Prior to this, Michelle Obama had never publicly stated her position on this issue. Senior White House officials said Michelle Obama and Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett had been the two most consistent advocates for same-sex marriage in Barack Obama's life. [180] Michelle said:

This is an important issue for millions of Americans, and for Barack and me, it really comes down to the values of fairness and equality we want to pass down to our girls. These are basic values that kids learn at a very young age and that we encourage them to apply in all areas of their lives. And in a country where we teach our children that everyone is equal under the law, discriminating against same-sex couples just isn't right. It's as simple as that. [181]

At the 2012 DNC, Michelle said, "Barack knows the American Dream because he's lived it . and he wants everyone in this country to have that same opportunity, no matter who we are, or where we're from, or what we look like, or who we love." [182]

Domestic travels

In May 2009, Obama delivered the commencement speech at a graduating ceremony at UC Merced in Merced County, California, the address being praised afterward by students who found her relatable. Kevin Fagan of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote that there was chemistry between Obama and the students. [183]

In August 2013, Obama attended the 50th anniversary ceremony for the March on Washington at the Lincoln Memorial. Positive attention was brought to Obama's attire, a black sleeveless dress with red flowers, designed by Tracy Reese. [184] [185] Reese reacted by releasing a public statement that she was honored the first lady "would choose to wear one of our designs during the celebration of such a deeply significant historical moment". [186] [187]

In March 2015, Obama traveled to Selma, Alabama, with her family to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery marches. [188] After President Obama's remarks there, the Obamas joined original marchers, including John Lewis, in crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge. [189] [190]

In July 2015, Obama journeyed to Coachella Valley while coming to Los Angeles for that year's Special Olympics World Games. [191]

In October 2015, Obama was joined by Jill Biden and Prince Harry in visiting a military base in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, in an attempt on the prince's part to raise awareness to programs supporting harmed service members. [192] In December 2015, Obama traveled with her husband to San Bernardino, California, to meet with families of the victims of a terrorist attack that occurred two weeks earlier. [193]

Foreign trips

On April 1, 2009, Obama met with Queen Elizabeth II in Buckingham Palace, Obama embracing her before attending an event with world leaders. [194] Obama praised her, though the hug generated controversy for being out of protocol when greeting Elizabeth. [195] [196]

In April 2010, Obama traveled to Mexico, her first solo visit to a nation. [197] In Mexico, Obama spoke to students, encouraging them to take responsibility for their futures. [198] [199] Referring to the underprivileged children, Obama argued that "potential can be found in some of the most unlikely places," citing herself and her husband as examples. [200] [201]

Obama traveled to Africa for the second official trip in June 2011, touring Johannesburg, Cape Town and Botswana and meeting with Graça Machel. Obama was also involved with community events in the foreign countries. [202] It was commented by White House staff that her trip to Africa would advance the foreign policy of her husband. [203] [204]

In March 2014, Obama visited China along with her two daughters Malia and Sasha, and her mother Marian Robinson. She met with Peng Liyuan, the wife of Chinese president Xi Jinping, visited historic and cultural sites, as well as a university and two high schools. [205] [206] Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said the visit and intent in Obama journeying there was to symbolize "the relationship between the United States and China is not just between leaders, it's a relationship between peoples." [207] [208]

In January 2015, Obama traveled to Saudi Arabia alongside her husband, following the death of King Abdullah. She received criticism for not covering her head in a nation where women are forbidden from publicly not doing so, [209] [210] though Obama was defended for being a foreigner and thus not having to submit to Saudi Arabia's customs, [211] even being praised in some corners. [212] Obama was neither greeted nor acknowledged by King Salman during the encounter. [213]

In June 2015, Obama undertook a weeklong trip to London and three Italian cities. In London, she spoke with students about international education for adolescent girls and met with both British prime minister David Cameron and Prince Harry. She was joined by her two daughters and mother. [214] In November, she spent a week in Qatar, her first official visit to the Middle East. She continued advancing her initiative for international education for women by speaking at the 2015 World Innovation Summit for Education for her "Let Girls Learn" initiative in Doha, Qatar and touring a school in Amman, Jordan, where she met with female students. [32] [215] [216] During the Qatar trip, Obama had intended to visit Jordan as well, but the trip was canceled due to weather conditions. In Jordan, Obama had intended to visit an Amman school, which had been constructed with assistance from U.S. funds. [217]

In March 2016, Obama accompanied her husband and children to Cuba in a trip that was seen by the administration as having the possibility of positively impacting relations between the country and America. [218] [219] Later that month, the first couple and their daughters traveled to Argentina, [220] meeting with Argentine president Mauricio Macri. [221] [222]

Midterm elections

Obama campaigned for Democratic candidates in the 2010 midterm elections, [223] [224] making her debut on the campaign trail in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. [225] [226] By the time she began campaigning, Obama's approval rating was 20 percentage points higher than her husband's. [227] Though Obama indicated in January 2010 that a consensus had not been made about whether she would campaign, [228] speculation of her involvement came from her large approval rating as well as reports that she had been invited to speak at events with Democrats such as Barbara Boxer, Mary Jo Kilroy and Joe Sestak. [229] She toured seven states in two weeks within October 2010. [230] Aides reported that, though viewed as essential by the White House, she would not become deeply involved with political discussions nor engage Republicans in public disputes. [231] After the elections, only six of the thirteen Democratic candidates Obama had campaigned for won. The Los Angeles Times concluded that while Obama was indeed more popular than her husband, her "election scorecard proved no better than his, particularly in her home state". [232]

Obama was a participant in the 2014 midterm elections, held at a time where her popularity superseded her husband's to such an extent that it was theorized she would receive a much larger outpour of support in campaigning. Reporting her travel to Denver, Colorado, David Lightman wrote that while Democrats did not want President Obama to campaign for them, "the first lady is very popular." [233] In May 2014, Obama was found to have a 61% favorable approval rating from a CNN poll, her husband coming in at 43%. [234] In a video released in July, as part of an effort to encourage voter turnout, she called on voters to be "hungry as you were back in 2008 and 2012". [235] Obama appeared at a fundraiser in Georgia in September for Democratic senate candidate Michelle Nunn. Obama's approach to campaigning in Georgia strayed from discussing current events and instead broadly stressed the importance of registering to vote and turning out during the elections. [234] Obama's infrequent appearances came from her dislike of being away from her children and Washington politics as well as her distaste for the opposition by Republicans to her husband's agenda and her view that Democrats in the U.S. Senate had not sufficiently been supporters of her initiatives to end childhood obesity. [236] Obama raised her profile in October, [237] [238] touring three states in four days. [236] Obama called the elections her husband's "last campaign". [239] [240]

Hillary Clinton 2016 presidential campaign

Obama endorsed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and made several high-profile speeches in favor of her, including an address at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. [241] She also appeared multiple times on the campaign trail in either solo or joint appearances with Clinton. [242] On October 13, 2016, Obama heavily criticized Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for the statements he made in a 2005 audio recording while at a Clinton rally in Manchester, New Hampshire. [243] A week later, Trump attempted to revive past comments Obama made in regards to Clinton during the 2008 presidential election. [244] [245]

Public image and style

With the ascent of her husband as a prominent national politician, Obama became a part of popular culture. In May 2006, Essence listed her among "25 of the World's Most Inspiring Women". [246] [247] In July 2007, Vanity Fair listed her among "10 of the World's Best Dressed People". She was an honorary guest at Oprah Winfrey's Legends Ball as a "young'un" paying tribute to the "Legends" who helped pave the way for African-American women. In September 2007, 02138 magazine listed her 58th of "The Harvard 100" a list of the prior year's most influential Harvard alumni. Her husband was ranked fourth. [246] [248] In July 2008, she made a repeat appearance on the Vanity Fair international best dressed list. [249] She also appeared on the 2008 People list of best-dressed women and was praised by the magazine for her "classic and confident" look. [250] [251]

At the time of her husband's election, some sources anticipated that as a high-profile African-American woman in a stable marriage Obama would be a positive role model who would influence the view the world has of African Americans. [252] [253] Her fashion choices were part of the 2009 Fashion week, [254] but Obama's influence in the field did not have the impact on the paucity of African-American models who participate, that some thought it might. [255] [256]

Obama's public support grew in her early months as First Lady, [137] [257] as she was accepted as a role model. [137] On her first trip abroad in April 2009, she toured a cancer ward with Sarah Brown, wife of British prime minister Gordon Brown. [258] Newsweek described her first trip abroad as an exhibition of her so-called "star power" [257] and MSN described it as a display of sartorial elegance. [247] Questions were raised by some in the American and British media regarding protocol when the Obamas met Queen Elizabeth II [259] and Michelle reciprocated a touch on her back by the Queen during a reception, purportedly against traditional royal etiquette. [259] [260] Palace sources denied that any breach in etiquette had occurred. [261]

Obama has been compared to Jacqueline Kennedy due to her sense of style, [249] and also to Barbara Bush for her discipline and decorum. [262] [263] Obama's style has been described as "fashion populist". [54] In 2010, she wore clothes, many high end, from more than fifty design companies with less expensive pieces from J.Crew and Target, and the same year a study found that her patronage was worth an average of $14 million to a company. [264] She became a fashion trendsetter, in particular favoring sleeveless dresses, including her first-term official portrait in a dress by Michael Kors, and her ball gowns designed by Jason Wu for both inaugurals. [265] She has also been known for wearing clothes by African designers such as Mimi Plange, Duro Olowu, Maki Oh, and Osei Duro, and styles such as the Adire fabric. [266] [267]

Obama appeared on the cover and in a photo spread in the March 2009 issue of Vogue. [268] [269] Every first lady since Lou Hoover (except Bess Truman) has been in Vogue, [268] but only Hillary Clinton had previously appeared on the cover. [270] Obama later appeared two more times on the cover of Vogue, while First Lady, the last time in December 2016, with photographs by Annie Leibovitz. [271] In August 2011, she became the first woman ever to appear on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens magazine, and the first person in 48 years. [272] In 2013, during the 85th Academy Awards, she became the first first lady to announce the winner of an Oscar (Best Picture which went to Argo). [273]

The media have been criticized for focusing more on the first lady's fashion sense than her serious contributions. [54] [274] She said after the 2008 election that she would like to focus attention as First Lady on issues of concern to military and working families. [252] [275] [276] In 2008 U.S. News & World Report blogger, PBS host and Scripps Howard columnist Bonnie Erbé argued that Obama's own publicists seemed to be feeding the emphasis on style over substance, [277] and said Obama was miscasting herself by overemphasizing style. [76] [278]

For three straight years – 2018, 2019, and 2020 – Obama topped the Gallup poll asking who is the "most admired woman" in the U.S. [279] [280]

Time magazine features an annual "Person of the Year" cover story in which Time recognizes the individual or group of individuals who have had the biggest impact on news headlines over the previous twelve months. In 2020 the magazine decided to retroactively choose a historically deserving woman for each year in which a man had been named Person of the Year, reflecting the fact that a woman or women had been named Person of the Year only eleven times in the preceding hundred. As part of this review, Michelle Obama was named the Woman of the Year for 2008. [281]

In May 2017, during an appearance at the Partnership for a Healthier America conference, Obama rebuked the Trump administration for its delay of a federal requirement designed to increase the nutritional standards for school lunches. [282] In June, while attending the WWDC in Silicon Valley, California, Obama called for tech companies to add women for the diversifying of their ranks. [283] In July, Obama honored Eunice Shriver at the 2017 ESPY Awards. [284] In September, Obama delivered an address at the tech conference in Utah charging the Trump administration with having a fearful White House, [285] appeared in a video for the Global Citizens Festival advocating more attention to giving young girls an education, [286] and attended the Inbound 2017 conference in Boston. [287] During an October 3 appearance at the Philadelphia Conference for Women, Obama cited a lack of diversity in politics with contributing to lawmakers being distrusted by other groups. [288] In November, Obama discussed gender disparity in attitudes with Elizabeth Alexander while attending the Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago, [289] and spoke at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford, Connecticut. [290]

In April 2018, Obama responded to speculation that she might be running for president by saying she has "never had the passion for politics" and that "there are millions of women who are inclined and do have the passion for politics." [291]

On January 2, 2021, Obama encouraged Georgia residents to vote in the state’s runoff in the U.S. Senate election and to contact VoteRiders, a non-profit voter ID education organization, to make sure they have the necessary ID to vote. [292]

On January 20, 2021, the Obamas attended the inauguration of Joe Biden. Michelle Obama wore a matching plum coat, sweater, pants, and belt designed by Sergio Hudson to the inauguration. [293]

In 2021, she was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame. [294]

Becoming, podcast and TV

Obama's memoir, Becoming, was released in November 2018. [295] By November 2019, it had sold 11.5 million copies. [296] A documentary titled Becoming, which chronicles Obama's book tour promoting the memoir, was released on Netflix on May 6, 2020. [297] [298]

In July 2020, she premiered a podcast titled The Michelle Obama Podcast. [299] [300]

In February 2021, Obama was announced as an executive producer and presenter on a children's cooking show, Waffles + Mochi. [301] It was released by Netflix on March 16, 2021. [302] [303]

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  • Obama, Michelle (2018). Becoming. New York: Crown Publishing Group. ISBN978-1-5247-6313-8 .
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  • Colbert, David (2008). Michelle Obama, An American Story. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN978-0-547-24770-0 .
  • Lightfoot, Elizabeth (2008). Michelle Obama: First Lady of Hope. The Lyons Press. ISBN978-1-59921-521-1 .
  • Mundy, Liza (2008). Michelle Obama, A Life. Simon & Schuster. ISBN978-1-4165-9943-2 .
  • Chambers, Veronica (2017). The Meaning of Michelle: 16 Writers on the Iconic First Lady and How Her Journey Inspires Our Own. St. Martin's Press. ISBN978-1-250-11496-9 .

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By Naval Institute Staff

March 11, 1778 – Lieutenant Gotthold Frederick Enslin becomes the first documented service member to be dismissed from the U.S. military for homosexuality. Under an order from General George Washington which states “abhorrence and detestation of such infamous crimes,” Lt. Enslin is drummed out of the Continental Army after being found guilty of sodomy.

March 1, 1917 – The Articles of War of 1916 are implemented. A revision of the Articles of War of 1806, the new regulations detail statutes governing U.S. military discipline and justice. Under the category Miscellaneous Crimes and Offences, Article 93 states that any person subject to military law who commits “assault with intent to commit sodomy” shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

Franklin Roosevelt as Assistant Secretary of the Navy at his desk in 1918

1919 – Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt requests an investigation into “vice and depravity” in the sea services. A sting operation is launched in which undercover operatives attempt to seduce sailors suspected of being homosexual. At least 17 sailors are jailed and court-martialed before public outcry prompts the Senate to condemn the operation.

June 4, 1920 – Congress approves modified Articles of War. Article 93 is changed to make the act of sodomy a crime in itself, separate from the offense of assault with intent to commit sodomy.

1921 –The U.S. Army issues standards in which “stigmata of degeneration” such as feminine characteristics and “sexual perversion” can result in a male being declared unfit for service.

1941 – The U. S. Selective Service System includes “homosexual proclivities” as a disqualifying condition for inclusion in the military draft.

1942 – Military psychiatrists warn that “psychopathic personality disorders” make homosexual individuals unfit to fight. The military issues the first formal regulations to list homosexuality as an excludable characteristic. Those in the military identified as homosexuals can be discharged and denied veterans benefits.

January 20, 1950 – Army Regulation 600-443 is published, identifying three categories of homosexuals. Those deemed to be aggressive are placed in Class I and are subjected to general court-martial. Homosexuals considered active but non-aggressive are placed in Class II and can avoid a court-martial by accepting a dishonorable discharge – or resigning, if they are officers. Personnel professing or exhibiting homosexual tendencies without committing a violation of the sodomy statute are designated “Class III,” and can be removed from service under general or honorable discharge.

May 31, 1951 – The Uniform Code of Military Conduct is adopted. Article 125 forbids sodomy among all military personnel, defining it as “any person subject to this chapter who engages in unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex or with an animal is guilty of sodomy. Penetration, however slight, is sufficient to complete the offence.” The 1951 Manual for Courts-Martial provides an even more explicit description of acts considered sodomy under military law.

April 27, 1953 – Expressing national security and counterespionage concerns, President Dwight D Eisenhower signs Executive Order 10450 which prohibits Federal employees from being members of a group or organization considered subversive. The order lists “sexual perversion” as a security risk constituting grounds for termination or denial of employment.

1957 – Captain S. H. Crittenden chairs a U. S. Navy Board of Inquiry that issues a report concluding there is “no sound basis for the belief that homosexuals posed a security risk.”

November, 1972 – Army Regulation 635-200 establishes policy for discharging enlisted personnel found to be unfit or unsuitable for duty. Homosexual acts are specifically designated as grounds for dismissal. Enforcement, however, is often left to the discretion of commanders.

Leonard Matlovich featured on the Sept. 8, 1975, cover of TIME

July 16, 1976 – The U. S. District Court in Washington D.C., upholds the decision of the U. S. Air Force to discharge Technical Sergeant Leonard Matlovich after he admits to being homosexual. Matlovich had challenged the military’s anti-gay policy on constitutional grounds. Matlovich appeals the District Court’s ruling, but would eventually accept an honorable discharge and cash settlement to drop the case against the Air Force.

May, 1980 – A federal district court orders the U. S. Army to reinstate Staff Sergeant Miriam Ben-Shalom, ruling that her discharge four years earlier, on grounds of homosexuality, violated her First Amendment rights. The Army dismisses the order, leading Ben-Shalom to file a motion of contempt. After initial victories, her battle to be reinstated ends in 1990 when the Supreme Court refuses to hear her case, upholding an earlier decision by federal appeals court that ruled in favor of the Army.

January 16, 1981 – The Department of Defense issues Directive 1332.14, stating that “homosexuality is incompatible with military service” and that any service member who has “engaged in, has attempted to engage in, or has solicited another to engage in a homosexual act” will face mandatory discharge. The directive will be reissued with updates in 1982, 1993 and 2008.

December, 1988 – In a report commissioned by the Department of Defense, the Defense Personnel Security Research and Education Center supports the conclusions of the 1957 Crittenden Report that homosexuals pose no significant security risk. Military leaders challenge the veracity of the research used in the analysis.

1992 – During his presidential campaign, Governor Bill Clinton promises that, if elected, he would allow military service by all who otherwise qualify to serve – regardless of sexual orientation.

June 12, 1992 – The Government Accounting Office (GAO) releases a report estimating that the cost associated for replacing service men and women discharged for homosexuality is $28,266 for each enlisted member and $120,772 for each officer. The GAO notes that the estimates do not include investigation, out-processing and court costs.

November 30, 1993 – After failing to overcome opposition to allowing gays to serve openly in the military, President Clinton signs into law the current policy known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” into law. Although often referred to as a compromise, the policy defined homosexuality as “an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.” More than 13,000 members of the armed services have been discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

2007 – Senator Barack Obama, campaigning for the presidency, pledges that if elected he will repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy within 100 days of taking office and allow gay men and women to serve openly in the military.

January 27, 2010 – President Obama announces during his State of the Union address that “this year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are.”

March 25, 2010 – The Pentagon announces modified guidelines for the enforcement of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” – providing greater protection from hearsay evidence and accusations based on hidden agendas. Parties providing information about alleged gay service personnel must do so under oath and will be subject to “special scrutiny” to determine their motives.

September 9, 2010 – U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips rules that the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy is unconstitutional because it violates the First and Fifth Amendment rights of homosexuals.

October 12, 2010 – Judge Phillips issues an injunction to stop enforcement of the ban on gays serving openly. The Obama adminstration requests Judge Phillips to stay her ruling, saying it “threatens to disrupt ongoing military operations” during wartime.

November 30, 2010 – The Department of Defense releases a report concluding that the repeal of the ban on gays in the armed forces would have a minimal negative impact on the military’s effectiveness.

December 15, 2010 – The House of Representatives votes to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” by passing bill H.R. 2965.

December 18, 2010 – The Senate votes to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” by passing bill S. 4023.

President Barack Obama signs the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010, Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010, at the Interior Department in Washington. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

December 22, 2010 – President Barack Obama signs the repeal into law. The formal repeal will not begin until 60 days after the President, Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify in writing that the military is sufficiently prepared for the change.

June 26, 2013 – U.S. Supreme Court strikes down a portion of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which restricted federal employees in same sex marriages — including military families — from receiving federal benefits.

July 28, 2015Secretary of Defense Ash Carter issues a directive stating that no service member shall be discharged solely on their gender identity without personal approval of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.

June 30, 2016– Secretary Carter removes the ban on transgender individuals serving openly in the military.

A photo illustration announcing that Military Sealift Command fleet oiler, T-AO 206, will be named USNS Harvey Milk. (U.S. Navy Photo Illustration/Released)

July 14, 2016– Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus notifies Congress that he intends to name a ship in honor of slain gay rights activist and Navy veteran Harvey Milk.

July 26, 2017– President Donald Trump tweets that the U.S. will not accept transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the military because of potential medical costs.

March 24, 2018– The White House releases a memo stating that individuals with a history of gender dysphoria will be disqualified from military service except under certain limited circumstances.

Shilts, Randy. Conduct Unbecoming: Gays & Lesbians in the U.S. Military. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993

Wolinsky, Marc and Kenneth Sherrill, eds. Gays and the Military. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993 займ онлайн без отказа

Living Through Revolutionary Change - Part III

The Shelby Cullom Davis Center Seminars present weekly programming on a variety of topics related to the Center's current theme. Visiting Fellows from academic institutions near and far help to create a rich understanding of the topic from diverse yet overlapping perspectives. The theme for the academic years 2020-21 and 2021-22 is “Revolutionary Change.”

Seminars meet online via Zoom from 10:15 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time (USA), and are open to all Princeton University affiliates. The papers are pre-circulated and can be accessed beginning one week before the date of the seminar. The seminar starts with a brief comment by an invited commentator, and a response from the author, after which the floor is open for questions from attendees. The papers provide information on how to join the Zoom session. You may access the papers here.

The first three seminars of the year (September 4, 11 and 18) will be devoted to a special symposium on the theme of “Living Through Revolutionary Change.” Each seminar will feature two short papers by Princeton History Department faculty, addressing the subjects of war, economic crisis, famine and plague, colonial conquest, regime change and urban revolt.



Despite constitutional prohibitions, unified party control of Florida's government may lead to an increased risk of partisan and racial gerrymandering. In the 2011 redistricting cycle, the principal avenue for fair districts in Florida was the state Supreme Court. In 2021, however, the Court’s composition will be very different.

Additionally, this will be Florida’s first cycle without the protections of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which was struck down in the 2013 Supreme Court case Shelby County v. Holder. In the absence of preclearance requirements for communities of color, and given Florida’s history with gerrymandering, observers should closely monitor every step of the redistricting process to ensure fair treatment for all.

Congressional Seats

Following the 2020 Census apportionment results, Florida gained one congressional seat.


The full official name pound sterling (plural: pounds sterling), is used mainly in formal contexts and also when it is necessary to distinguish the United Kingdom currency from other currencies with the same name. Otherwise the term pound is normally used. The currency name is sometimes abbreviated to just sterling, particularly in the wholesale financial markets, but not when referring to specific amounts for example, "Payment is accepted in sterling" but never "These cost five sterling". The abbreviations "ster." and "stg." are sometimes used. The term "British pound" is sometimes used in less formal contexts, but it is not an official name of the currency.

Etymology Edit

There are various theories regarding the origin of the term "pound sterling". The Oxford English Dictionary states that the "most plausible" etymology is derivation from the Old English steorra for "star" with the added diminutive suffix "-ling", to mean "little star" and to refer to a silver penny of the English Normans. [9] [10]

Another argument that the Hanseatic League was the origin for both the origin of its definition and manufacture, and in its name is that the German name for the Baltic is "Ostsee", or "East Sea", and from this the Baltic merchants were called "Osterlings", or "Easterlings". [11] [12] In 1260, Henry III granted them a charter of protection and land for their Kontor, the Steelyard of London, which by the 1340s was also called "Easterlings Hall", or Esterlingeshalle. [13] Because the League's money was not frequently debased like that of England, English traders stipulated to be paid in pounds of the "Easterlings", which was contracted to "'sterling". [14]

Encyclopedia Britannica states the (pre-Norman) Anglo-Saxon kingdoms had silver coins called 'sterlings' and that the compound noun 'pound sterling' was derived from a pound (weight) of these sterlings. [15]

Symbol Edit

Currency code Edit

The ISO 4217 currency code is GBP, formed from "GB", the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 code for the United Kingdom, and the first letter of "pound". Occasionally, the abbreviation "UKP" is used but this is non-standard because the ISO 3166 country code for the United Kingdom is GB (see Terminology of the British Isles). The Crown dependencies use their own (non-ISO) codes: GGP (Guernsey pound), JEP (Jersey pound) and IMP (Isle of Man pound). Stock prices are often quoted in pence, so traders may refer to pence sterling, GBX (sometimes GBp), when listing stock prices.

Cable Edit

The exchange rate of the pound sterling against the US dollar is referred to as "cable" in the wholesale foreign exchange markets. The origins of this term are attributed to the fact that in the 1800s, the GBP/USD exchange rate was transmitted via transatlantic cable. Forex traders of GBP/USD are sometimes referred to as "cable dealers". [21] JPY/USD is the other currency pair with its own name, known as "fiber". [ citation needed ] [22]

Quid (slang) Edit

A common slang term for the pound sterling or pound is quid, which is singular and plural, except in the common phrase "quids in!". [23] The term may have come via Italian immigrants from "scudo", the name for a number of coins used in Italy until the 19th century or from Latin 'quid' via the common phrase quid pro quo, literally, "what for what", or, figuratively, "An equal exchange or substitution". [24]

Decimal coinage Edit

Since decimalisation on Decimal Day in 1971, the pound has been divided into 100 pence (denoted on coinage, until 1981, as "new pence"). The symbol for the penny is "p" hence an amount such as 50p (£0.50) properly pronounced "fifty pence" is often pronounced "fifty pee" /fɪfti pi/. This also helped to distinguish between new and old pence amounts during the changeover to the decimal system. A decimal halfpenny was issued until 1984 but was removed due to having a higher cost to manufacture than its face value. [25]

Pre-decimal Edit

  • 5s
  • 10s
  • £1
  • £5
  • £10
  • £20
  • £50
  • £100
  • 1d
  • 3d
  • 6d
  • 1s
  • 2s
  • 2s6d
  • 5s

By the 1950s, coins of Kings George III, George IV and William IV had disappeared from circulation, but coins (at least the penny) bearing the head of every British king or queen from Queen Victoria onwards could be found in circulation. Silver coins were replaced by those in cupro-nickel in 1947, and by the 1960s the silver coins were rarely seen. Silver/cupro-nickel shillings (from any period after 1816) and florins (2 shillings) remained legal tender after decimalisation (as 5p and 10p respectively) until 1990 and 1993 respectively, but are now officially demonetised. [26] [27]

The pound sterling emerged after the adoption of Carolingian monetary system in England c 800 CE. Here is a summary of changes to its value in terms of silver or gold until 1914. [28] [29]

Value of £1, grams and troy ounces
Year silver gold
800 349.9 g (11.25 ozt) -
1158 323.7 g (10.41 ozt) -
1351 258.9 g (8.32 ozt) 23.21 g (0.746 ozt)
1412 215.8 g (6.94 ozt) 20.89 g (0.672 ozt)
1464 172.6 g (5.55 ozt) 15.47 g (0.497 ozt)
1551 115.1 g (3.70 ozt) 10.31 g (0.331 ozt)
1601 111.4 g (3.58 ozt) variable
1717 111.4 g (3.58 ozt) 7.32238 g (0.235420 ozt)
1816 - 7.32238 g (0.235420 ozt)

Since the suspension of the gold standard in 1931 the pound sterling has been fiat money, with its value determined by its continued acceptance in the national and international economy. The pound sterling is the world's oldest currency that is still in use and that has been in continuous use since its inception. [30]

Anglo-Saxon, c 800 CE Edit

The pound was a unit of account in Anglo-Saxon England, equal to 240 silver pence (the plural of penny) and equivalent to one pound weight of silver. It evolved into the modern British currency, the pound sterling.

The accounting system of four farthings = one penny, twelve pence = one shilling, twenty shillings = one pound, was adopted from that introduced by Charlemagne to the Frankish Empire (see livre carolingienne). The penny was abbreviated to 'd', from denarius, Latin for penny 's' from solidus, for shilling and 'L' (subsequently £) from Libra or Livre for the pound.

The origins of sterling lie in the reign of King Offa of Mercia (757–796), who introduced the silver penny. It represented the denarius of the new currency system of Charlemagne's Frankish Empire. As in the Carolingian system, 240 pence weighed one pound, a unit corresponding to Charlemagne's livre, with the shilling corresponding to Charlemagne's solidus and equal to twelve pence.

Medieval, 1158 CE Edit

The early pennies were struck from fine silver (as pure as was available). However, in 1158, a new coinage was introduced by King Henry II (known as the Tealby penny) which was struck from 92.5% silver hence 1.349 g fine silver in a penny. [28] This coinage standard, called sterling silver, has been maintained until the 20th century. Sterling silver is harder than the 99.9% fine silver that was traditionally used and so sterling silver coins did not wear down as rapidly as fine silver coins.

The introduction in 1266 and subsequent popularity of the larger French gros tournois coins led to additional denominations in the form of groats worth four pence and half groats worth two pence. [33] A gold penny weighing twice the silver penny and valued at 20 silver pence was also issued in 1257 but was not successful. [34]

The English penny remained nearly unchanged since c 800 CE and was a prominent exception in the progressive debasements of coinage which occurred in the rest of Europe. The Tower Pound (12 oz) originally of 240 pence was struck into just 243 pence as of 1279 CE. [31] The English groat denominated as 4 pence may be contrasted with the French gros tournois denominated 12 deniers (pence) and the Venetian grosso denominated 26 denari.

1351 Edit

The introduction of gold coins received from Flanders as payment for English wool provided substantial economic and trade opportunities but also unsettled the pound sterling for the next 200 years. [28] : 41 The first monetary changes in 1344 consisted of

  • English pennies reduced to 20
  • 1 ⁄ 4 grains of sterling silver (1.214 g fine silver), and
  • Gold double florins weighing 108 grains (6.998 grams) and valued at 6 shillings (or 72 pence). [28]

The resulting gold-silver ratio of 1:12.5 was much higher than the ratio of 1:11 prevailing in the Continent, draining England of its silver coinage and requiring a more permanent remedy in 1351 in the form of

  • Pennies reduced further to 18 grains of sterling silver (1.079 g fine silver), and
  • New Gold Noble coins weighing 120 grains (7.776 g) of the finest gold possible at 191/192 or 99.48% fine, [35] and valued at 6 shillings 8 pence (80 pence, or
  • 1 ⁄ 3 rd of a pound) hence 7.735 g fine gold in a Noble. The gold-silver ratio is 80*1.079/7.735 = 11.2.

These gold nobles, together with half-nobles (40 pence) and farthings or quarter-nobles (20 pence), [35] would became the first English gold coins produced in quantity. [36]

1412 Edit

The exigencies of the Hundred Years’ War during the reign of King Henry IV resulted in a further reduction in the English penny to 15 grains sterling silver (0.899 g fine silver) and the Half-Noble to 54 grains (3.481 g fine gold). [28] The gold-silver ratio went down to 40*0.899/3.481 = 10.3.

1464 Edit

Tudor, 1551 Edit

Prior to 1551, English coin denominations closely matched with corresponding sol (2d) & livre (40d) denominations in the Continent, namely:

  • Silver see Medieval: farthing (
  • 1 ⁄ 4 d), halfpenny (
  • 1 ⁄ 2 d), penny (1d), half-groat (2d), & groat (4d)
  • Gold see 1351:
  • 1 ⁄ 4 noble (20d),
  • 1 ⁄ 2 noble (40d) & Noble or angel (80d).
  • In silver: the Threepence (3d), replacing the half-groat the Sixpence (6d), replacing the groat and a new Shilling or testoon (1/-).
  • In silver or gold: the Half crown (2/6 or 30d), replacing the
  • 1 ⁄ 4 angel of 20d and the Crown (5/- or 60d), replacing the
  • 1 ⁄ 2 angel of 40d.
  • And in gold: the new Half sovereign (10 shillings) and Sovereign (£1 or 20 shillings)

1601–1816 Edit

The silver basis of the pound sterling remained essentially unchanged until the 1816 introduction of the Gold Standard, save for the increase in the number of pennies in a troy ounce from 60 to 62 (hence, 0.464 g fine silver in a penny). Its gold basis remained unsettled, however, until the gold guinea was fixed at 21 shillings in 1717.

During the time of Sir Isaac Newton, Master of the Mint, the gold guinea was fixed at 21 shillings in 1717. But without addressing the problem of underweight silver coins, and with the high resulting gold-silver ratio of 15.2, it gave the pound sterling a firmer footing in gold guineas rather than silver shillings, resulting in a de facto gold standard. Silver & copper tokens issued by private entities partly relieved the problem of small change until the Great Recoinage of 1816. [42]

In line with Gresham's Law, English merchants sent silver abroad in payments, while goods for export were paid for with gold. [ citation needed ] Scotland, meanwhile, had its own Pound Scots. As a consequence of these flows of silver out and gold in, England was effectively on a gold standard. Trade with China aggravated this outflow, as the Chinese refused to accept anything but silver in payment for exports. From the mid-17th century, around 28,000 metric tons (27,600 long tons) of silver were received by China, principally from European powers, in exchange for Chinese tea and other goods. In order to trade with China, England had first to trade with the other European nations to receive silver, which led to the British East India Company redressing this trade imbalance through the indirect sale of opium to the Chinese. [43]

Domestic demand for silver further reduced silver in circulation, as the improving fortunes of the merchant class led to increased demand for tableware. Silversmiths had always regarded coinage as a source of raw material, already verified for fineness by the government. As a result, sterling coins were being melted and fashioned into sterling silverware at an accelerating rate. An Act of the Parliament of England in 1697 tried to stem this tide by raising the minimum acceptable fineness on wrought plate from sterling's 92.5% to a new Britannia silver standard of 95.83%. Silverware made purely from melted coins would be found wanting when the silversmith took his wares to the Assay Office, thus discouraging the melting of coins. [ citation needed ]

Establishment of modern currency Edit

The Bank of England was founded in 1694, followed by the Bank of Scotland a year later. Both began to issue paper money.

Currency of Great Britain (1707) and the United Kingdom (1801) Edit

The pound Scots once had much the same value as the pound sterling, [ when? ] [ citation needed ] but it suffered far higher devaluation until in the 17th century it was pegged to sterling at a value of 12 pounds Scots = 1 pound sterling. [ citation needed ]

In 1707, the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland merged to form the Kingdom of Great Britain. In accordance with the Treaty of Union, the currency of Great Britain was sterling, with the pound Scots soon being replaced by sterling at the pegged value.

In 1801, Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland were united to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. However, the Irish pound continued to exist and was not replaced by sterling until January 1826. [44] The conversion rate had long been 13 Irish pounds to 12 pounds sterling. [ citation needed ] In 1928, six years after the Anglo-Irish Treaty restored Irish autonomy within the British Empire, the Irish Free State re-established the Irish pound, pegged at par to sterling. [45]

Use in the Empire Edit

Sterling circulated in much of the British Empire. In some parts, it was used alongside local currencies. For example, the gold sovereign was legal tender in Canada despite the use of the Canadian dollar. Several colonies and dominions adopted the pound as their own currency. These included Australia, Barbados, [46] British West Africa, Cyprus, Fiji, British India, the Irish Free State, Jamaica, New Zealand, South Africa and Southern Rhodesia. Some of these retained parity with sterling throughout their existence (e.g. the South African pound), while others deviated from parity after the end of the gold standard (e.g. the Australian pound). These currencies and others tied to sterling constituted the sterling area.

The original English colonies on mainland North America were not party to the sterling area because the above-mentioned silver shortage in England coincided with these colonies' formative years. As a result of equitable trade (and rather less equitable piracy), the Spanish milled dollar became the most common coin within the English colonies.

Gold standard Edit

During the American War of Independence and the Napoleonic wars, Bank of England notes were legal tender, and their value floated relative to gold. The Bank also issued silver tokens to alleviate the shortage of silver coins. In 1816, the gold standard was adopted officially, [ citation needed ] with silver coins minted at a rate of 66 shillings to a troy pound (weight) of sterling silver, thus rendering them as "token" issues (i.e. not containing their value in precious metal). In 1817, the sovereign was introduced, valued at 20 shillings. Struck in 22‑karat gold, it contained 113 grains or 7.32238 g (0.235420 ozt) of fine gold and replaced the guinea as the standard British gold coin without changing the gold standard.

By the 19th century, pound sterling notes were widely accepted outside Britain. The American Nellie Bly carried Bank of England notes on her 1889–1890 trip around the world in 72 days. [47] During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many other countries adopted the gold standard. As a consequence, conversion rates between different currencies could be determined simply from the respective gold standards. The pound sterling was equal to 4.87 United States dollars, 4.87 Canadian dollars, 12.11 Dutch guilders, 25.22 French francs (or equivalent currencies in the Latin Monetary Union), 20.43 German marks, 9.46 Russian Rubles or 24.02 Austro-Hungarian krone. After the International Monetary Conference of 1867 in Paris, the possibility of the UK joining the Latin Monetary Union was discussed, and a Royal Commission on International Coinage examined the issues, [48] resulting in a decision against joining monetary union.

The gold standard was suspended at the outbreak of the war in 1914, with Bank of England and Treasury notes becoming legal tender. Before World War I, the United Kingdom had one of the world's strongest economies, holding 40% of the world's overseas investments. But after the end of the war, the country was indebted: Britain owed £850 million (about £41.7 billion today) [49] with interest costing the country some 40% of all government spending. [50] To try to resume stability, a version of the gold standard was reintroduced in 1925, under which the currency was fixed to gold at its pre-war peg, but one could only exchange currency for gold bullion, not for coins. This was abandoned on 21 September 1931, during the Great Depression, and sterling suffered an initial devaluation of some 25%. [51]

Bretton Woods Edit

In 1940, an agreement with the US pegged the pound to the U.S. dollar at a rate of £1 = $4.03. (Only the year before, it had been $4.86.) [52] This rate was maintained through the Second World War and became part of the Bretton Woods system which governed post-war exchange rates. Under continuing economic pressure, and despite months of denials that it would do so, on 19 September 1949 the government devalued the pound by 30.5% to $2.80. [53] The move prompted several other currencies to be devalued against the dollar.

Operation Bernhard was the codename of a secret Nazi plan devised during the Second World War by the RSHA and the SS to destabilise the British economy via economic warfare by flooding the global economy and the British Empire with forged Bank of England £5, £10, £20, and £50 notes.

In 1961, 1964, and 1966, the pound came under renewed pressure, as speculators were selling pounds for dollars. In summer 1966, with the value of the pound falling in the currency markets, exchange controls were tightened by the Wilson government. Among the measures, tourists were banned from taking more than £50 out of the country in travellers' cheques and remittances, plus £15 in cash this restriction was not lifted until 1979. The pound was devalued by 14.3% to $2.40 on 18 November 1967. [53] [54]

Decimalisation Edit

Until decimalisation, amounts were stated in pounds, shillings, and pence, with various widely understood notations. The same amount could be stated as 32s 6d, 32/6, £1 12s 6d, or £1/12/6. It was customary to specify some prices (for example professional fees and auction prices for works of art) in guineas (one guinea was 21 shillings) although guinea coins were no longer in use.

Formal parliamentary proposals to decimalise sterling were first made in 1824 when Sir John Wrottesley, MP for Staffordshire, asked in the British House of Commons whether consideration had been given to decimalising the currency. [55] Wrottesley raised the issue in the House of Commons again in 1833, [56] and it was again raised by John Bowring, MP for Kilmarnock Burghs, in 1847 [57] whose efforts led to the introduction in 1848 of what was in effect the first decimal coin in the United Kingdom, the florin, valued at one-tenth of a pound sterling. However, full decimalisation was resisted, although the florin coin, re-designated as ten new pence, survived the transfer to a full decimal system in 1971, with examples surviving in British coinage until 1993.

John Benjamin Smith, MP for Stirling Burghs, raised the issue of full decimalisation again in Parliament in 1853, [58] resulting in the Chancellor of the Exchequer, William Gladstone, announcing soon afterwards that "the great question of a decimal coinage" was "now under serious consideration". [59] A full proposal for the decimalisation of sterling was then tabled in the House of Commons in June 1855, by William Brown, MP for Lancashire Southern, with the suggestion that the pound sterling be divided into one thousand parts, each called a "mil", or alternatively a farthing, as the pound was then equivalent to 960 farthings which could easily be rounded up to one thousand farthings in the new system. [60] This did not result in the conversion of the pound sterling into a decimal system, but it was agreed to establish a Royal Commission to look into the issue. [61] However, largely due to the hostility to decimalisation of two of the appointed commissioners, Lord Overstone (a banker) and John Hubbard (Governor of the Bank of England), decimalisation in Britain was effectively quashed for over a hundred years. [62]

However, the pound sterling was decimalised in various British colonial territories before the United Kingdom (and in several cases in line with William Brown's proposal that the pound be divided into 1,000 parts, called mils). These included Hong Kong from 1863 to 1866 [63] Cyprus from 1955 until 1960 (and continued on the island as the division of the Cypriot pound until 1983) and the Palestine Mandate from 1926 until 1948. [64]

Free-floating pound Edit

With the breakdown of the Bretton Woods system, the pound floated from August 1971 onwards. At first, it appreciated a little, rising to almost $2.65 in March 1972 from $2.42, the upper bound of the band in which it had been fixed. The sterling area effectively ended at this time, when the majority of its members also chose to float freely against the pound and the dollar.

1976 sterling crisis Edit

James Callaghan became Prime Minister in 1976. He was immediately told the economy was facing huge problems, according to documents released in 2006 by the National Archives. [66] The effects of the 1973 oil crisis were still being felt, with inflation rising to nearly 27% in 1975. [67] Financial markets were beginning to believe the pound was overvalued, and in April that year The Wall Street Journal advised the sale of sterling investments in the face of high taxes, in a story that ended with "goodbye, Great Britain. It was nice knowing you". [68] At the time the UK government was running a budget deficit, and Labour's strategy emphasised high public spending. [53] Callaghan was told there were three possible outcomes: a disastrous free fall in sterling, an internationally unacceptable siege economy, or a deal with key allies to prop up the pound while painful economic reforms were put in place. The US government feared the crisis could endanger NATO and the European Economic Community (EEC), and in light of this the US Treasury set out to force domestic policy changes. In November 1976 the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced the conditions for a loan, including deep cuts in public expenditure. [69]

1979–1989 Edit

The Conservative Party was elected to office in 1979, on a programme of fiscal austerity. Initially, the pound rocketed, moving above US$2.40, as interest rates rose in response to the monetarist policy of targeting money supply. The high exchange rate was widely blamed for the deep recession of 1981. Sterling fell sharply after 1980 at its lowest, the pound stood at just $1.03 in March 1985, before rising to $1.70 in December 1989. [70]

Following the Deutsche Mark Edit

In 1988, Margaret Thatcher's Chancellor of the Exchequer, Nigel Lawson, decided that the pound should "shadow" the West German Deutsche Mark (DM), with the unintended result of a rapid rise in inflation as the economy boomed due to low interest rates. (For ideological reasons, the Conservative Government declined to use alternative mechanisms to control the explosion of credit. For this reason, former Prime Minister Edward Heath referred to Lawson as a "one club golfer".) [71]

Following German reunification in 1990, the reverse held true, as high German borrowing costs to fund Eastern reconstruction, exacerbated by the political decision to convert the Ostmark to the DM on a 1:1 basis, meant that interest rates in other countries shadowing the DM, especially the UK, were far too high relative to domestic circumstances, leading to a housing decline and recession.

Following the European Currency Unit Edit

On 8 October 1990 the Conservative government (Third Thatcher ministry) decided to join the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM), with the pound set at DM2.95. However, the country was forced to withdraw from the system on "Black Wednesday" (16 September 1992) as Britain's economic performance made the exchange rate unsustainable.

"Black Wednesday" saw interest rates jump from 10% to 15% in an unsuccessful attempt to stop the pound from falling below the ERM limits. The exchange rate fell to DM2.20. Those who had argued [72] for a lower GBP/DM exchange rate were vindicated since the cheaper pound encouraged exports and contributed to the economic prosperity of the 1990s.

Following inflation targets Edit

In 1997, the newly elected Labour government handed over day-to-day control of interest rates to the Bank of England (a policy that had originally been advocated by the Liberal Democrats). [73] The Bank is now responsible for setting its base rate of interest so as to keep inflation (as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI)) very close to 2% per annum. Should CPI inflation be more than one percentage point above or below the target, the governor of the Bank of England is required to write an open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer explaining the reasons for this and the measures which will be taken to bring this measure of inflation back in line with the 2% target. On 17 April 2007, annual CPI inflation was reported at 3.1% (inflation of the Retail Prices Index was 4.8%). Accordingly, and for the first time, the Governor had to write publicly to the government explaining why inflation was more than one percentage point higher than its target. [74]

Euro Edit

In 2007, Gordon Brown, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, ruled out membership in the eurozone for the foreseeable future, saying that the decision not to join had been right for Britain and for Europe. [75]

On 1 January 2008, with the Republic of Cyprus switching its currency from the Cypriot pound to the euro, the British sovereign bases on Cyprus (Akrotiri and Dhekelia) followed suit, making the Sovereign Base Areas the only territory under British sovereignty to officially use the euro. [76]

The government of former Prime Minister Tony Blair had pledged to hold a public referendum to decide on the adoption of the Euro should "five economic tests" be met, to increase the likelihood that any adoption of the euro would be in the national interest. In addition to these internal (national) criteria, the UK would have to meet the European Union's economic convergence criteria (Maastricht criteria) before being allowed to adopt the euro. The Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government (2010–2015) ruled out joining the euro for that parliamentary term.

The idea of replacing the pound with the euro was always controversial with the British public, partly because of the pound's identity as a symbol of British sovereignty and because it would, according to some critics, have led to suboptimal interest rates, harming the British economy. [77] In December 2008, the results of a BBC poll of 1000 people suggested that 71% would vote no to the euro, 23% would vote yes, while 6% said they were unsure. [78] The pound did not join the Second European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM II) after the euro was created. Denmark and the UK had opt-outs from entry to the euro. Theoretically, every EU nation but Denmark must eventually sign up.

As a member of the European Union, the United Kingdom could have adopted the euro as its currency. However, the subject was always politically controversial, and the UK negotiated an opt-out on this issue. Following the UK's withdrawal from the EU, on 31 January 2020, the Bank of England ended its membership of the European System of Central Banks, [79] and shares in the European Central Bank were reallocated to other EU banks. [80]

Recent exchange rates Edit

The pound and the euro fluctuate in value against one another, although there may be correlation between movements in their respective exchange rates with other currencies such as the US dollar. Inflation concerns in the UK led the Bank of England to raise interest rates in late 2006 and 2007. This caused the pound to appreciate against other major currencies and, with the US dollar depreciating at the same time, the pound hit a 15-year high against the US dollar on 18 April 2007, reaching US$2 the day before, for the first time since 1992. The pound and many other currencies continued to appreciate against the dollar sterling hit a 26-year high of US$2.1161 on 7 November 2007 as the dollar fell worldwide. [81] From mid-2003 to mid-2007, the pound/euro rate remained within a narrow range (€1.45 ± 5%). [82]

Following the global financial crisis in late 2008, the pound depreciated sharply, reaching $1.38 (US) on 23 January 2009 [83] and falling below €1.25 against the euro in April 2008. [84] There was a further decline during the remainder of 2008, most dramatically on 29 December when its euro rate hit an all-time low at €1.0219, while its US dollar rate depreciated. [85] [86] The pound appreciated in early 2009, reaching a peak against the euro of €1.17 in mid-July. In the following months the pound remained broadly steady against the euro, with the pound valued on 27 May 2011 at €1.15 and US$1.65.

On 5 March 2009, the Bank of England announced that it would pump £75 billion of new capital into the British economy, through a process known as quantitative easing (QE). This was the first time in the United Kingdom's history that this measure had been used, although the Bank's Governor Mervyn King suggested it was not an experiment. [87]

The process saw the Bank of England creating new money for itself, which it then used to purchase assets such as government bonds, secured commercial paper, or corporate bonds. [88] The initial amount stated to be created through this method was £75 billion, although Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling had given permission for up to £150 billion to be created if necessary. [89] It was expected that the process would continue for three months, with results only likely in the long term. [87] By 5 November 2009, some £175 billion had been injected using QE, and the process remained less effective in the long term. In July 2012, the final increase in QE meant it had peaked at £375 billion, then holding solely UK Government bonds, representing one third of the UK national debt. [90]

The result of the 2016 UK referendum on EU membership caused a major decline in the pound against other world currencies as the future of international trade relationships and domestic political leadership became unclear. [91] The referendum result weakened sterling against the euro by 5% overnight. The night before the vote, the pound was trading at €1.30 the next day, this had fallen to €1.23. By October 2016, the exchange rate was €1.12 to the pound, a fall of 14% since the referendum. By the end of August 2017 the pound was even lower, at €1.08. [92] Against the US dollar, meanwhile, the pound fell from $1.466 to $1.3694 when the referendum result was first revealed, and down to $1.2232 by October 2016, a fall of 16%. [93]

Annual inflation rate Edit

The Bank of England had stated in 2009 that the decision had been taken to prevent the rate of inflation falling below the 2% target rate. [88] Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, had also suggested there were no other monetary options left, as interest rates had already been cut to their lowest level ever (0.5%) and it was unlikely that they would be cut further. [89]

The inflation rate rose in following years, reaching 5.2% per year (based on the Consumer Price Index) in September 2011, then decreased to around 2.5% the following year. [94]

Pre-decimal coins Edit

The silver penny (plural: pence abbreviation: d) was the principal and often the only coin in circulation from the 8th century until the 13th century. Although some fractions of the penny were struck (see farthing and halfpenny), it was more common to find pennies cut into halves and quarters to provide smaller change. Very few gold coins were struck, with the gold penny (worth 20 silver pence) a rare example. However, in 1279, the groat, worth 4d, was introduced, with the half groat following in 1344. 1344 also saw the establishment of a gold coinage with the introduction (after the failed gold florin) of the noble worth six shillings and eight pence (6/8) (i.e. 3 nobles to the pound), together with the half and quarter noble. Reforms in 1464 saw a reduction in value of the coinage in both silver and gold, with the noble renamed the ryal and worth 10/– (i.e. 2 to the pound) and the angel introduced at the noble's old value of 6/8.

Following the succession of the Scottish King James VI to the English throne, a new gold coinage was introduced, including the spur ryal (15/–), the unite (20/–) and the rose ryal (30/–). The laurel, worth 20/–, followed in 1619. The first base metal coins were also introduced: tin and copper farthings. Copper halfpenny coins followed in the reign of Charles I. During the English Civil War, a number of siege coinages were produced, often in unusual denominations.

To alleviate the shortage of silver coins, between 1797 and 1804, the Bank of England counterstamped Spanish dollars (8 reales) and other Spanish and Spanish colonial coins for circulation. A small counterstamp of the King's head was used. Until 1800, these circulated at a rate of 4/9 for 8 reales. After 1800, a rate of 5/- for 8 reales was used. The Bank then issued silver tokens for 5/– (struck over Spanish dollars) in 1804, followed by tokens for 1/6 and 3/– between 1811 and 1816.

During the First World War, production of the sovereign and half-sovereign was suspended, and although the gold standard was later restored, the coins saw little circulation thereafter. In 1920, the silver standard, maintained at .925 since 1552, was reduced to .500. In 1937, a nickel-brass 3d coin was introduced the last silver 3d coins were issued seven years later. In 1947, the remaining silver coins were replaced with cupro-nickel, with the exception of Maundy coinage which was then restored to .925. Inflation caused the farthing to cease production in 1956 and be demonetised in 1960. In the run-up to decimalisation, the halfpenny and half-crown were demonetised in 1969.

Decimal coins Edit

  • 1968: The first decimal coins were introduced. These were cupro-nickel5p and 10p coins which were the same size as, equivalent in value to, and circulated alongside, the one shilling coin and the florin (two shilling coin) respectively.
  • 1969: The curved equilateral heptagonal cupro-nickel 50p coin replaced the ten shilling banknote (10/–).
  • 1970: The Half crown (2/6, 12.5p) was demonetised.
  • 1971: The decimal coinage was completed when decimalisation came into effect in 1971 with the introduction of the bronze half new penny (
  • 1 ⁄ 2 p), new penny (1p), and two new pence (2p) coins and the withdrawal of the (old) penny (1d) and (old) threepence (3d) coins.
  • 1980: Withdrawal of the sixpence (6d) coin, which had continued in circulation at a value of
  • 2 + 1 ⁄ 2 p.
  • 1982: The word "new" was dropped from the coinage and a 20p coin was introduced.
  • 1983: A (round, brass) £1 coin was introduced.
  • 1983: The
  • 1 ⁄ 2 p coin was last produced.
  • 1984: The
  • 1 ⁄ 2 p coin was withdrawn from circulation.
  • 1990: The crown, historically valued at five shillings (25p), was re-tariffed for future issues as a commemorative coin at £5.
  • 1990: A new 5p coin was introduced, replacing the original size that had been the same as the shilling coins of the same value that it had in turn replaced. These first generation 5p coins and any remaining old shilling coins were withdrawn from circulation in 1991.
  • 1992: A new 10p coin was introduced, replacing the original size that had been the same as the florin or two shilling coins of the same value that it had in turn replaced. These first generation 10p coins and any remaining old florin coins were withdrawn from circulation over the following two years.
  • 1992: 1p and 2p coins began to be minted in copper-platedsteel (the original bronze coins continued in circulation).
  • 1997: A new 50p coin was introduced, replacing the original size that had been in use since 1969, and the first generation 50p coins were withdrawn from circulation.
  • 1998: The bi-metallic£2 coin was introduced.
  • 2007: By now the value of copper in the pre-1992 1p and 2p coins (which are 97% copper) exceeded those coins' face value to such an extent that melting down the coins by entrepreneurs was becoming worthwhile (with a premium of up to 11%, with smelting costs reducing this to around 4%)—although this is illegal, and the market value of copper has subsequently fallen dramatically from these earlier peaks.
  • In April 2008, an extensive redesign of the coinage was unveiled. The 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, and 50p coins feature parts of the Royal Shield on their reverse and the reverse of the pound coin showed the whole shield. The coins were issued gradually into circulation, starting in mid-2008. They have the same sizes, shapes and weights as those with the old designs which, apart from the round pound coin which was withdrawn in 2017, continue to circulate.
  • 2012: The 5p and 10p coins were changed from cupro-nickel to nickel-plated steel.
  • 2016: The Royal Mint began minting legal tender decimal sixpence coins in silver, [95] not intended for regular circulation but to be bought as Christmas presents and for the traditional wedding tradition for the bride: "and a silver sixpence in your shoe". [96]
  • 2017: A more secure twelve-sided bi-metallic £1 coin was introduced to reduce forgery. The old round £1 coin ceased to be legal tender on 15 October 2017. [97]

As of 2020 [update] , the oldest circulating coins in the UK are the 1p and 2p copper coins introduced in 1971. No other coins from before 1982 are in circulation. Prior to the withdrawal from circulation in 1992, the oldest circulating coins had usually dated from 1947: although older coins (shilling florin, sixpence to 1980) were still legal tender, inflation meant that their silver content was worth more than their face value, which meant that they tended to be removed from circulation. Before decimalisation in 1971, a handful of change might have contained coins 100 or more years old, bearing any of five monarchs' heads, especially in the copper coins.

The first sterling notes were issued by the Bank of England shortly after its foundation in 1694. Denominations were initially handwritten on the notes at the time of issue. From 1745, the notes were printed in denominations between £20 and £1000, with any odd shillings added by hand. £10 notes were added in 1759, followed by £5 in 1793 and £1 and £2 in 1797. The lowest two denominations were withdrawn after the end of the Napoleonic wars. In 1855, the notes were converted to being entirely printed, with denominations of £5, £10, £20, £50, £100, £200, £300, £500 and £1000 issued.

The Bank of Scotland began issuing notes in 1695. Although the pound Scots was still the currency of Scotland, these notes were denominated in sterling in values up to £100. From 1727, the Royal Bank of Scotland also issued notes. Both banks issued some notes denominated in guineas as well as pounds. In the 19th century, regulations limited the smallest note issued by Scottish banks to be the £1 denomination, a note not permitted in England.

With the extension of sterling to Ireland in 1825, the Bank of Ireland began issuing sterling notes, later followed by other Irish banks. These notes included the unusual denominations of 30/- and £3. The highest denomination issued by the Irish banks was £100.

In 1826, banks at least 65 miles (105 km) from London were given permission to issue their own paper money. From 1844, new banks were excluded from issuing notes in England and Wales but not in Scotland and Ireland. Consequently, the number of private banknotes dwindled in England and Wales but proliferated in Scotland and Ireland. The last English private banknotes were issued in 1921.

In 1914, the Treasury introduced notes for 10/- and £1 to replace gold coins. These circulated until 1928 when they were replaced by Bank of England notes. Irish independence reduced the number of Irish banks issuing sterling notes to five operating in Northern Ireland. The Second World War had a drastic effect on the note production of the Bank of England. Fearful of mass forgery by the Nazis (see Operation Bernhard), all notes for £10 and above ceased production, leaving the bank to issue only 10/-, £1 and £5 notes. Scottish and Northern Irish issues were unaffected, with issues in denominations of £1, £5, £10, £20, £50 and £100.

The Bank of England reintroduced £10 notes in 1964. In 1969, the 10/- note was replaced by the 50p coin to prepare for decimalisation. £20 Bank of England notes were reintroduced in 1970, followed by £50 in 1981. [98] A £1 coin was introduced in 1983, and Bank of England £1 notes were withdrawn in 1988. Scottish and Northern Irish banks followed, with only the Royal Bank of Scotland continuing to issue this denomination.

UK notes include raised print (e.g. on the words "Bank of England") watermarks embedded metallic thread holograms and fluorescent ink visible only under UV lamps. Three printing techniques are involved: offset litho, intaglio and letterpress and the notes incorporate a total of 85 specialized inks. [99]

The Bank of England produces notes named "giant" and "titan". [100] A giant is a one million pound note, and a titan is a one hundred million pound bank note, [101] of which there are about 40. Giants and titans are used only within the banking system.

Polymer banknotes Edit

The Northern Bank £5 note, issued by (Northern Ireland's) Northern Bank (now Danske Bank) in 2000, was the only polymer banknote in circulation until 2016. The Bank of England introduced £5 polymer banknotes in September 2016, and the paper £5 notes were withdrawn on 5 May 2017. A polymer £10 banknote was introduced on 14 September 2017, and the paper note was withdrawn on 1 March 2018. A polymer £20 banknote was introduced on 20 February 2020, to be followed by a polymer £50 in 2021. [102]

As the central bank of the United Kingdom which has been delegated authority by the government, the Bank of England sets the monetary policy for the British pound by controlling the amount of money in circulation. It has a monopoly on the issuance of banknotes in England and Wales and regulates the amount of banknotes issued by seven authorized banks in Scotland and Northern Ireland. [103] HM Treasury has reserve powers to give orders to the committee "if they are required in the public interest and by extreme economic circumstances" but such orders must be endorsed by Parliament within 28 days. [104]

Unlike banknotes which have separate issuers in Scotland and Northern Ireland, all UK coins are issued by the Royal Mint, which is an independent enterprise (wholly owned by the Treasury) which also mints coins for other countries.

In Britain's Crown Dependencies, the Manx pound, Jersey pound, and Guernsey pound are unregulated by the Bank of England and are issued independently. [105] However, they are maintained at a fixed exchange rate by their respective governments, and Bank of England notes have been made legal tender on the islands, forming a sort of one-way de facto currency union. These currencies do not have ISO 4217 codes, so "GBP" is usually used to represent all of them informal codes are used where the difference is important.

British Overseas Territories are responsible for the monetary policy of their own currencies (where they exist), [106] and have their own ISO 4217 codes. The Falkland Islands pound, Gibraltar pound, and Saint Helena pound are set at a fixed 1:1 exchange rate with the British pound by local governments.

Legal tender in the United Kingdom is defined such that "a debtor cannot successfully be sued for non-payment if he pays into court in legal tender." Parties can alternatively settle a debt by other means with mutual consent. Strictly speaking, it is necessary for the debtor to offer the exact amount due as there is no obligation for the other party to provide change. [107]

Throughout the UK, £1 and £2 coins are legal tender for any amount, with the other coins being legal tender only for limited amounts. Bank of England notes are legal tender for any amount in England and Wales, but not in Scotland or Northern Ireland. [107] (Bank of England 10/- and £1 notes were legal tender, as were Scottish banknotes, during World War II under the Currency (Defence) Act 1939, which was repealed on 1 January 1946.) Channel Islands and Isle of Man banknotes are legal tender only in their respective jurisdictions. [108]

Bank of England, Scottish, Northern Irish, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, Gibraltar, and Falkland banknotes may be offered anywhere in the UK, although there is no obligation to accept them as a means of payment, and acceptance varies. For example, merchants in England generally accept Scottish and Northern Irish bills, but some unfamiliar with them may reject them. [109] However, Scottish and Northern Irish bills both tend to be accepted in Scotland and Northern Ireland, respectively. Merchants in England generally do not accept Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Gibraltar, and Falkland notes but Isle of Man notes are generally accepted in Northern Ireland. [110] Bank of England notes are generally accepted in the Falklands and Gibraltar, but for example, Scottish and Northern Irish notes are not. [111] Since all of the bills are denominated in pounds sterling, banks will exchange them for locally issued bills at face value, [112] [ failed verification ] though some in the UK have had trouble exchanging Falkland Islands pounds. [113]

Commemorative £5 and 25p (crown) coins, and 6p coins made for traditional wedding ceremonies and Christmas gifts, rarely seen in circulation, are legal tender, as are the bullion coins issued by the Mint.

Coin Maximum usable as legal tender [114]
£100 (produced from 2015) [107] unlimited
£20 (produced from 2013) unlimited
£5 (post-1990 crown) unlimited
£2 unlimited
£1 unlimited
50p £10
25p (pre-1990 crown) £10
20p £10
10p £5
5p £5
2p 20p
1p 20p

In 2006, the House of Commons Library published a research paper which included an index of prices in pounds for each year between 1750 and 2005, where 1974 was indexed at 100. [115]

Regarding the period 1750–1914 the document states: "Although there was considerable year on year fluctuation in price levels prior to 1914 (reflecting the quality of the harvest, wars, etc.) there was not the long-term steady increase in prices associated with the period since 1945". It goes on to say that "Since 1945 prices have risen in every year with an aggregate rise of over 27 times".

The value of the index in 1751 was 5.1, increasing to a peak of 16.3 in 1813 before declining very soon after the end of the Napoleonic Wars to around 10.0 and remaining in the range 8.5–10.0 at the end of the 19th century. The index was 9.8 in 1914 and peaked at 25.3 in 1920, before declining to 15.8 in 1933 and 1934—prices were only about three times as high as they had been 180 years earlier. [116]

Inflation has had a dramatic effect during and after World War II: the index was 20.2 in 1940, 33.0 in 1950, 49.1 in 1960, 73.1 in 1970, 263.7 in 1980, 497.5 in 1990, 671.8 in 2000 and 757.3 in 2005.

The following table shows the equivalent amount of goods and services that, in a particular year, could be purchased with £1. [117]

The table shows that from 1971 to 2015 the British pound lost about 92 per cent of its buying power.

Buying power of one British pound compared to 1971 GBP
Year Equivalent buying power Year Equivalent buying power Year Equivalent buying power Year Equivalent buying power Year Equivalent buying power
1971 £1.00 1981 £0.271 1991 £0.152 2001 £0.117 2011 £0.0900
1972 £0.935 1982 £0.250 1992 £0.146 2002 £0.115 2012 £0.0850
1973 £0.855 1983 £0.239 1993 £0.144 2003 £0.112 2013 £0.0826
1974 £0.735 1984 £0.227 1994 £0.141 2004 £0.109 2014 £0.0800
1975 £0.592 1985 £0.214 1995 £0.136 2005 £0.106 2015 £0.0780
1976 £0.510 1986 £0.207 1996 £0.133 2006 £0.102 2016 £0.0777
1977 £0.439 1987 £0.199 1997 £0.123 2007 £0.0980 2017 £0.0744
1978 £0.407 1988 £0.190 1998 £0.125 2008 £0.0943 2018 £0.0726
1979 £0.358 1989 £0.176 1999 £0.123 2009 £0.0952
1980 £0.303 1990 £0.161 2000 £0.119 2010 £0.0910

The pound is freely bought and sold on the foreign exchange markets around the world, and its value relative to other currencies therefore fluctuates. [b]

Current GBP exchange rates

Sterling is used as a reserve currency around the world. As of 2019 [update] , it is ranked fourth in value held as reserves.

10 Facts about the Battle of Princeton

The American victory at the Battle of Princeton (January 3, 1777) was one of the most consequential of the American Revolution. George Washington and his soldiers marched north from Trenton and attacked a British force south of the town. Washington's victory bolstered American morale and provided great confidence to his soldiers.

1. Washington escaped from one enemy to attack another at Princeton

Despite their success in repulsing several frontal attacks at the Battle of Assunpink Creek (Battle of Second Trenton) on January 2, 1777, Gen. George Washington and his senior officers were filled with a sense of dread. Gen. Charles Cornwallis&rsquo army of 8,000 veteran soldiers were poised to deliver a punishing blow the following morning. The fact that the British had discovered a ford that led to the vulnerable American right flank made the American position on the Assunpink Creek near Trenton all the more dangerous.

Rather than risk defeat in Trenton, Washington, in collaboration with his senior officers, agreed upon a bold and dangerous plan. That very night the Continental army would quietly leave its positions along the creek and march east, then north towards Princeton. With deceptive campfires still burning along the creek, Washington&rsquos intrepid soldiers began their 18-mile march through the dark and bitterly cold night. By stealing a march on Cornwallis, Washington retained the all-important initiative and avoided any movement that smacked of retreat. Washington&rsquos successful night march on January 2 and 3, 1777 is remembered as one of the great flank marches in American history.

2. &ldquoA very intelligent young gentleman&rdquo provided Washington with valuable intelligence

Ever-hungry for good intelligence on British positions north of the Delaware River, Washington had ordered militia Colonel John Cadwalader, on December 12, 1776, to obtain information on British forces and intentions. &ldquoSpare no pains or expense to get intelligence of the enemy&rsquos motions and intentions&hellip Every piece of intelligence you obtain worthy of notice, send it forward by express. &rdquo

Cadwalader&rsquos intelligence efforts bore fruit in the form of a detailed, handwritten map of the British positions around Princeton, New Jersey. Cadwalader had received this detailed information from &ldquoa very intelligent young gentleman&rdquo who had just returned from the area. Cadwalader&rsquos map included detailed information on British works, cannon, and force dispositions. The map also included valuable information on the road network around Princeton &ndash all information that Washington put to great use on January 3, 1777.

3. Opposing forces almost missed one another

Lt. Col. Charles Mawhood, the British officer in command at Princeton, had been ordered by Cornwallis to bring reinforcements down to his position at Trenton. Leaving a small garrison in Princeton, Mawhood began his march down the Post Road towards Trenton just after dawn. Washington&rsquos northward marching army was primarily traveling on a parallel and lesser-known road that crossed the Thomas Clark Farm &ndash a road that was largely out of view from the Post Road. Behind schedule, Washington sent a small detachment under the command of Hugh Mercer to seize and destroy the Stony Brook bridge along the Post Road. It was this detachment that was viewed by scouts attached to Mawhood&rsquos column. Mawhood, now aware of a new threat near Princeton, wheeled his force about and approached Mercer on the Clarke Farm.

One might imagine what would have occurred if this chance meeting had not occurred. Mawhood would have been well on his way to Trenton and Washington would have found but a small, vulnerable garrison at Princeton.

4. Lt. Col. Charles Mawhood rode into battle with springer spaniels at his side

Mercer&rsquos American force soon beheld the advance of soldiers from two British regiments &ndash the 17 th and 55 th Foot. Mawhood himself could soon be seen atop his &ldquobrown pony&rdquo and with a pair of his favorite spaniels bounding at his side. As David Hackett Fischer writes, &ldquo[Mawhood] delighted in the display of a highly developed air of nonchalance, especially on the field of battle.&rdquo Despite this strangely casual display, Mawhood was a veteran and highly capable officer who would more than prove his mettle on the fields at Princeton.

5. Many British soldiers believed they had killed Gen. Washington during the battle

During the opening phases of the battle, a bayonet charge by the British forces broke Hugh Mercer&rsquos American line near an orchard fence line on the Clarke Farm. Brig. Gen. Hugh Mercer , a friend of the Washingtons and a resident of Fredericksburg, Virginia, attempted to reform his command, but was soon surrounded by angry British regulars shouting &ldquoSurrender you damn rebel!&rdquo Mercer, a veteran of European wars and a fierce patriot, refused to lay down his arms. After a brief struggle, Mercer was bayonetted repeatedly and left for dead. Given that Mercer was well-attired (as opposed to the rags worn by most American soldiers), a high-ranking officer, and refused to surrender, many British soldiers believed they had killed Washington himself.

6. At one point, Washington was just 30 yards from the British line

Moving to reinforce Mercer&rsquos broken line Cadwalader&rsquos brigade of Pennsylvania militia, Delaware and Philadelphia light infantry, and a small unit of marines &ndash all told about 1,500 men - moved towards the British. Despite their numerical superiority, the inexperienced Americans began to fall back under the steady fire from the British regulars. As Cadwalader reformed his line, up rode Washington astride a magnificent white horse. Amidst the flying musket balls, Washington coolly assured his soldiers, &ldquoParade with us my brave fellows! There is but a handful of the enemy and we shall have them directly!&rdquo Washington then proceeded to lead the militiamen forward from the front. He at one point was only 30 yards from the British line &ndash easy musket range. John Fitzgerald, one of Washington&rsquos officers, reportedly pulled his hat over his eyes, expecting to see the General shot from the saddle at any moment. Despite his proximity, Washington remained uninjured and his galvanizing presence stabilized the American line at a critical moment in the battle. Soon Washington, along with fresh reinforcements, were chasing the remnants of Mawhood&rsquos broken force through the fields and woods.

Battle Map: Battle of Princeton, 8:20 am to 8:45 am

7. Marines fought alongside Washington at Princeton

After his arrival upon the Pennsylvania shore of the Delaware River, Washington sent out an urgent plea for reinforcement. One of the first contingents of soldiers to respond to this request were roughly 600 marines from the Philadelphia area. This force of marines had been recruited for duty aboard the various Continental warships now anchored near Philadelphia and were generally considered to be excellent fighters. The marine officers had seen active duty against the British onboard various vessels and their men had been occupied in daily drill and frequent skirmishes with British forces operating in the area.

Three companies of marines accompanied Washington&rsquos army on its nighttime march to Princeton. Moving with Cadwalader&rsquos Brigade into the fight, a few marines under the command of Major Samuel Nicholas, engaged Manhood&rsquos troops on the Clarke Farm. During the fierce fighting the Regulars several of the marines were killed in battle, including Captain William Shippin. These casualties were some of the first to be suffered by marines on any battlefield.

8. The final actions of the battle occurred on the Princeton campus

After the American victory on the Clarke Farm, the final military actions of the Battle of Princeton shifted towards the town itself. Roughly 200 British Regulars had fortified Nassau Hall at the center of what is Princeton University today. From this stout building, the British intended to use firing positions to hold off the Americans until a relief party arrived. The Americans positioned cannon around the building and soon began firing on the building and its occupants. Legend has it that one of the American cannonballs decapitated the portrait of King George II hanging inside the building &ndash a fearful omen that further spurred the British garrison to surrender.

Nassau Hall still stands at the center of Princeton University and one can still see upon its surface damage caused by the American fire. As for the portrait of King George? The original portrait was destroyed, but a different painting of King George II now hangs in the historic building opposite Peale's portrait of George Washington at Princeton.

Washington's World: Locate Nassau Hall and other Washington related sites in our Washington's World Interactive Map

9. The victory at Princeton rescued the Patriot cause from one of its darkest hours

The disastrous defeats in the 1776 New York Campaign and the precipitous retreat across the Delaware River had left the prospects for American independence in tatters. Rather than retreat to winter quarters as most on both sides of the Delaware River expected, Washington chose to attack in the dead of winter. Washington&rsquos victories at Trenton, the Assunpink Creek, and at Princeton completely reversed the fortunes of the Continental Army and the prospects for the young United States. Washington&rsquos victories and the effective guerrilla war waged in the New Jersey countryside forced Sir William Howe to retract the British lines back towards New York City - giving up much of the Jersey countryside that had been captured earlier.

Many look at the battles of Trenton and Princeton as small affairs, but these battles, combined with the tough winter campaigning sliced Howe&rsquos once mighty army in half. Howe&rsquos further requests for reinforcement left many in London aghast.

Washington&rsquos bold gambles and effective leadership had delivered the very sort of public confidence that Washington was keen to produce. Not only were the British and the Loyalists discouraged, but his own soldiers found newfound confidence that they could beat the very best that the British could put into the field.

Video: Rick Atkinson discusses the historical significance of the Battles of Second Trenton and Princeton (2:48)

10. George Washington at Princeton was wildly popular after its debut

Given how the news of Washington&rsquos victory at Princeton had electrified the nation, it&rsquos not surprising that the leading artists of the day hoped to capture Gen. Washington on canvas. Charles Willson Peale , Washington&rsquos most frequent portraitist and a Continental Army veteran who was at Princeton, finished his George Washington at Princeton painting in early 1779. The painting had been commissioned by the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania for its council chambers in Independence Hall, Philadelphia. After the painting&rsquos debut, there was a great clamor for replicas. It is estimated that Peale created 18 or more different replicas of the painting for clients as varied as King Louis XVI, the Spanish Court, and the island of Cuba. Today replicas can be found at Princeton University, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Colonial Williamsburg, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the US Senate. Each of these copies employs different sized canvases, updated uniforms, varied backgrounds, and other modifications.

In the original painting, now a part of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts collection, Washington leans upon the barrel of a captured cannon while Hessian and British flags lie at his feet. Washington is his blue and buff uniform with commander&rsquos sash looks confidently at the viewer while in the background one can make out Nassau Hall - the scene of the final moments of the battle.

Other Facts:

  • Weather: 21 degrees at 8am - "Fair & frosty." Some reported "shin deep snow" on the Clarke Farm battlefield.
  • Troop Strengths: American - 4,500 est. with 35 artillery pieces. British - 1,200 est. with 6 to 9 artillery pieces.
  • Casualties: Exact numbers are not known and estimates vary. Fischer reports 232 killed and wounded for the British with maybe another 200 to 300 captured. American losses were likely 31-37 killed, upwards of 37 wounded, and 1 captured.
  • At the time of the battle, Princeton University was known as the College of New Jersey. The name was changed to Princeton University in 1896.
  • The Continental Congress convened in Nassau Hall from June 30, 1783, to November 4, 1783. Congress moved here from Philadelphia to avoid the risk of mutinous Continental army officers in and near Philadelphia.

Fischer, David Hackett. Washington's Crossing. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Lengel, Edward G. General George Washington: A Military Life. New York: Random House, 2005.

Edwin N. McClellan and John H. Craige. Marines in the Battles of Trenton and Princeton, 1921.

Popular in News & Politics

The human remains held in a cardboard box for decades, though, belonged to individuals with families, friends, and surviving loved ones. Speaking to the New York Times, activist and MOVE member Mike Africa Jr., who was 6 years old at the time of the bombing and remembers Delisha and Tree, expressed feelings of “anger, fury, disappointment, sadness” about the nonconsensual use of what may be his friends’ body parts in a video that circulated to over 5,000 students online. “It’s like this never ends and no matter how much time passes, and you hope that things can get to a place where you can begin to heal some,” he said, “it’s right back up in your face.”

MOVE has issued a series of demands. Following protests at Princeton and the Penn Museum, both universities have apologized for the mishandling of the girls’ remains and committed to launching investigations into how the bones were violated and lost. Princeton’s anthropology department went further, acknowledging its explicitly racist history and ties to slavery and eugenics. Monge’s Coursera class has been suspended, although it has been archived, and those registered for the course can still stream it.

Watch the video: Princeton: Discovery, Inspiration, Evolution (May 2022).