To honor American women, Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin is teaming up with a California Democrat on a proposal to create a new series of 56 quarters that would feature a woman on the obverse picked by each state and territory.

“Our great nation was built and shaped by courageous, pioneering and bold women,” Poliquin said in a prepared statement Friday.

Poliquin, who has represented the 2nd District since 2014, is working with U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., to win approval for a program to mark the centennial of the passage of women’s suffrage.

The bill would direct the U.S. Treasury to issue quarters — one from each state, the District of Columbia and the five U.S. territories (American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands) — that would honor women who have made significant contributions to America. Governors would recommend designs to the treasury, as they did with the state quarters program.

“In Maine, we are tremendously proud to be the home of some of the most influential lawmakers in our nation’s history, with the great Margaret Chase Smith and former Sen. Olympia Snowe,” Poliquin said, suggesting a couple of possibilities for a Pine Tree State design.

“Their leadership, and the leadership of women across our nation and throughout our history, inspire us all,” he said.

Lee said women “have played an instrumental role in shaping this country — even though their sacrifices and accomplishments have often gone unrecognized by history.”

“This important bill, introduced during Women’s History Month, is designed to correct this historic wrong,” Lee said. “By uplifting women on our currency, Americans will have an opportunity to learn more about the unsung pioneers who built the United States.”

Most American coins that have featured a person have shown men, including every deceased president in a recent series of $1 coins.

Women haven’t been entirely shut out, though.

The Alabama state quarter featured Helen Keller on the reverse. Susan B. Anthony was featured on a $1 coin. And Sacagawea, the guide who helped the Lewis and Clark expedition, is also on a dollar coin.

If Congress backs their bill, the first coins could be issued as soon as 2021.

“By using a credible, legitimate and thoughtful process of educational and community stakeholder outreach similar to the currency redesign process in 2015, this program could provide the first-ever opportunity to institutionalize historical American women into classrooms across the country since curriculum standards are primarily determined at the state level,” former U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios said, according to a prepared statement.

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One of the first U.S. coins to honor an American woman, Susan B. Anthony.


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