On January 6. 1777, General George Washington led his troops into Morristown, NJ; his intent was to establish a camp and provide his troops with a secure place to rest and get through the Winter months. Washington's troops had just completed successful battles against the British at Trenton (December 26, 1776) and Princeton (January 3, 1777) and would definitely benefit from rest. The American victories had forced the British to retreat back toward New York, which helped provide the needed rest opportunity.
To mark the 160th anniversary of the Morristown camp, Arthur Harry Moore (D-NJ) introduced a bill in the Senate in May 1936 that called for "50-cent pieces in commemoration of the one hundred and sixtieth anniversary of the arrival of General Washington and the Continental Army at Morristown, New Jersey, after their inspiring victories at Trenton and Princeton, and the establishment of cantonments in Morristown for the duration of the war."
Moore's bill sought 10,000 half dollars of standard specification for the benefit of the Coinage Committee of the Morristown National Historical Park Celebration Committee. The Committee was to use net proceeds from the sale of the coins "in furtherance of said celebration, the acquisition of land for the building of a boulevard connecting Fort Nonsense Park and the cantonment area of the Morristown National Historical Park, and other said committee projects." (Note: "Cantonment" refers to a military garrison or camp.)
The bill was non-specific in terms of the number of Mint facilities that could be used, the date/year to appear on the coins and the minimum order size for the coins. Also, no expiration of coining authority was defined. All red flags for the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency to which it was referred.
The Committee was in favor of commemorating the anniversary, but not in using a US coin to do so. It reported the bill with a recommendation to strike commemorative medals rather than coins, while doing so, it also raised the mintage to 25,000 vs. the 10,000 half dollars requested. The report came very late in the session, however, and the Senate did not have time to take up the amended bill before the 74th Congress adjourned. With adjournment, the bill died.
Senator Moore introduced the coin bill again in January 1937, upon the opening of the first session of 75th Congress. The bill was referred to the Committee on Banking and Currency, but was never reported out for further consideration (either as a coin bill or medal bill). The lack of action meant the 1937 bill would ultimately suffer the same fate as the 1936 bill, and fail for lack of action.
I would have welcomed a commemorative medal for this one. IMO, it's an ideal event for a commemorative medal - a nice blend of local history with relevance to US history on a national level.
If you'd like to learn more about the Morristown encampment site and the Continental Army troops that used it, check out the National Park Service web site: Morristown National Historical Park
For more of my posts about commemorative coins and medals, including other What If? stories, see: Commems Collection