On December 27, 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt, a personal friend of Saint-Gaudens, wrote to his Secretary of the Treasury, Leslie Mortier Shaw: "I think the state of our coinage is artistically of atrocious hideousness. Would it be possible, without asking permission of Congress, to employ a man like Saint-Gaudens to give us a coinage which would have some beauty?" Roosevelt had Mint Director George E. Roberts write to Saint-Gaudens, who replied, "I am extremely interested in the matter of the new designs of the coinage ... it will I assure you give me great pleasure to assist in the procuring of good work." Roosevelt caused the Mint to engage Saint-Gaudens to redesign the coins which could be changed without the need for Congressional approval—the cent and the four gold coins. No U.S. coin had ever been designed by anyone other than a Mint employee.
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