Picking up where I left off in Part I...
Representative Disney re-introduced the Will Rogers bill he proposed in the previous (75th) Congress in March 1941 - no changes were made to its provisions for the 76th Congress (this included the specification of "1939" to be placed on the coins regardless of when struck). Following procedures, the bill was referred to the House Committee on Coinage, Weights and Measures where it stalled (again!). I tend to believe that had the coin proposal proceeded, the bill would have been amended to reflect a current date.
The bill was never reported out of Committee and so failed to move forward. Failed Attempt #2: 77th Congress, 1941.
The story took an interesting turn in the 78th Congress. In September 1944, Horace Jerry Voorhis (D-CA) introduced a bill "to perpetuate the memory of Will Rogers, a great American." The coin bill did not limit the number of Mint facilities that could be used, the number of coins that could be struck or when the coins could be struck - the makings of a multi-mint, multi-year coin program!
Another twist was the change in sponsor; the Voorhis bill named the Will Rogers Memorial Coin Committee and the Will Rogers Post Numbered 539 of the American Legion, Department of California - the Will Rogers Memorial in Oklahoma was no longer listed as a beneficiary of coin sales proceeds.
The bill was referred to the House Committee on Coinage, Weights, and Measures, but was never reported out. Failed Attempt #3: 78th Congress, 1944.
But the story doesn't end there. As I referenced in my earlier post (Did You Know? #22 - Will Rogers
), two more attempts would be made in 1945 during the 79th Congress.
Both bills were introduced in the House. The first was proposed by Representative Voohis in January on the opening day of the 79th Congress; it was a duplicate of the unsuccessful bill he introduced in the 78th Congress. The bill continued to support the Will Rogers Post Numbered 539 of the American Legion, Department of California.
A week later, William Grady Stigler (D-OK) introduced a Rogers bill that was to benefit the Will Rogers Memorial Commission of Oklahoma (same as with the previous Disney-introduced bills). Other than the named beneficiary, the two bills contained the same language and provisions. Each allowed for open-ended minting of the proposed half dollar as long as the coins were paid for prior to their delivery.
So, somewhat competing bills, one for an organization in California, Rogers' home during the later years of his life and site of his last live performance, and one for Oklahoma, Rogers' birthplace and home during his early years.
In a previous post (1946 Iowa Statehood Centennial - Smooth Sailing At Its Committee
) I mentioned that the two Will Rogers bills were included in the same June/July 1946 Hearing as the Iowa Statehood Centennial and Booker T. Washington Birthplace Memorial coin bills. At the start of the Hearing, Chairman Compton Ignatius White (D-ID) stated that the bills were identical (he overlooked the sponsor/beneficiary difference) and offered about Rogers: "Few men have contributed so much to straight thinking and tolerance in America. in pride of his Indian blood he once stated: 'My ancestors didn't come over on the Mayflower,
but they were there to meet the boat.'"
Near the end of the Hearing, the Senate Committee decided to defer action on the Will Rogers bills vs. discuss and report them. With this action, the bills lost their chance for further consideration in Congress and Congress' "Coin for Will Rogers" campaign that had extended across six years and four Congresses came quietly to an end. Failed Attempt #4: 79th Congress, 1945.
Here's a link to the Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore, OK: Will Rogers Memorial Museum & Birthplace Ranch
The first part of this Will Rogers coin story can be found here: Part I
For other of my posts about commemorative coins and medals, see: Commems Collection.