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Commems Collection: What If? 1955 Acadian Migration Bicentennial

 
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 Posted 07/06/2022  07:48 am Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
On the heels of the final year of the 1951-54 George Washington Carver-Booker T. Washington commemorative half dollar series, four identical bills were introduced in the House of Representatives during the 84th Congress (1955). The bills called for 50-cent pieces "to commemorate the migration of the Acadians from Novia [sic] Scotia to Louisiana."

The Acadians were a group of French settlers who established a distinct colony and culture in the eastern maritime region of New France - primarily in Canada's present-day Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island; Acadians could also be found in Quebec and northern Maine.

Between 1755 and 1764, during the French and Indian War/Seven Years' War, the British, believing the Acadians were siding with the French against them, implemented their Great Expulsion plan. This operation drove almost all of the Acadians from their homes and forced them to migrate away from their colony to multiple destinations, including back to France, to England, to islands in the Caribbean, to other British American colonies and to France's Louisiana Territory (in the region of the future US state); approximately ~4,000 settlers relocated to Louisiana. The initiation of this decade-long forced migration was to be commemorated by the coin.

Each of the four bills proposed a whopping one million coins, to be struck for the benefit of the Acadian Bicentennial Celebration Commission (established in 1954). No restriction on Mint facilities was incorporated in the bills, nor was a year/date to be placed on the coins specified. Per the bill's language, the coins could be struck, and dated, during a two-year period following enactment of the authorizing legislation. Theoretically, this could have meant three-coin P/D/S sets struck in 1955, 1956 and 1957.

All of the bills suffered the same fate; each was referred to the House Committee on Banking and Currency upon its introduction and never reported out.

I have no doubts that had any of the bills been reported out of Committee and sent to the Senate for consideration, it would have been significantly amended to prevent a multi-year program that had the potential to abuse collectors. The Senate never got the chance, however, and an Acadian Migration Bicentennial half dollar never was added to the classic era roster of US commemorative coins.

The Acadian population - the Cajuns - grew significantly from the original 4,000 over the years, with the Cajun population today numbering ~1.2 million. The impressive growth in Louisiana, where the Cajuns largely maintained their distinct cultural identity, was a strong driver behind the movement to mark the Cajun Migration Bicentennial.

Fortunately, the Celebration Commission was not relying solely on the half dollar to fund its planned celebrations. Celebrations were held throughout the south-central region of Louisiana, primarily in a seven-parish area (Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Landry, St. Martin and Vermilion). The celebrations included the hosting of a delegation of French-Canadians from Canada, organization of a pilgrimage to Canada, parades, shows at the 1955 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, official ceremonies at the Camellia Festival in Lafayette and special religious services in multiple cities across the state. The Cajun Bicentennial was also adopted as the theme for 1955's Mardi Gras.

Note: As with its coin desires, the Celebration Commission was also unsuccessful in securing a US postage stamp for its celebration. Kaiser Aluminum, however, produced and donated 100,000 aluminum doubloons for the celebration, so there was/is a numismatic collectible available for interested collectors.


For other of my posts about commemorative coins and medals, including more What If? stories, see: Commems Collection.




Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
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 Posted 07/06/2022  11:09 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Had it existed, this would have been one worth having.
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 Posted 07/06/2022  11:23 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Most interesting, thanks.
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 Posted 07/06/2022  7:06 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nickelsearcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Acadian Migration Bicentennial half dollar never was added to the classic era roster of US commemorative coins.


Hooray for the wisdom of the legislators of the day - another multi year/multi mint commemorative IMO would have just added to the collector abuse at the later end of the classic series.


Quote:
Had it existed, this would have been one worth having


Perhaps as a single coin type issue, but not as a 3 year P/D/S series.

As an aside - as a young 21 year old I ended up in Homa, LA working in the Gulf off-shore drilling business (roughneck I was) and spent a few years living and working amongst the cajuns. I recall the unique food, culture and colorful but difficult to understand language.
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 Posted 07/07/2022  10:57 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Perhaps as a single coin type issue, but not as a 3 year P/D/S series.
Most definitely agreed.
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