The United States celebrated the bicentennial of the signing of the US Constitution in 1987. The milestone event was marked by celebrations at the local, state and national levels and was the subject of many numismatic collectibles, including a commemorative gold half eagle and silver dollar and an official commemorate medal issued by the Capitol Historical Society, plus many privately-struck medals. Collectors can build an impressive topical collection around a theme if the US Constitution Bicentennial!
In 1988, the US Congress passed the Constitution Heritage Act
to "provide for continuing interpretation of the Constitution in appropriate units of the National Park System by the Secretary of the Interior, and to establish a National center for the United States Constitution within the Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania." The bill was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on September 16, 1988.
More than a decade later, in 2002, the National Constitution Center (NCC) was nearing completion in Philadelphia, PA as part of the Independence National Historic Park. To help lend financial support to the NCC. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) introduced a bill that called for 500,000 silver dollars to commemorate its planned 2003 opening. Surcharge funds of $10 per coin were specified and were to be used by the NCC "to promote a greater understanding of the Constitution and its values and ideals."
When introducing the bill, Senator Santorum remarked, As the first national center of its kind in the country, the National Constitution Center will promote understanding of the United States Constitution and its values. The events of the past year in our nation as well as recent judicial rulings have brought increased attention to those principles and values that define and bind us as Americans. All would agree that the United States Constitution is central to defining our country, who we are, and how we live as Americans. Even as we often debate in the halls of Congress and the Supreme Court those policies and laws that best reflect the values and intent of the Constitution, we all recognize the freedoms and opportunity that this remarkable document secures for us.
The bill was referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs where it languished, never being reported out. As a result, unlike the US Capitol Visitors Center, the National Constitution Center did not receive financial assistance for its operations via a US commemorative coin. I've wondered whether the fact that the NCC is actually a privately-owned (though non-profit) museum (on Federally-owned grounds) vs. Government-owned had something to do with the coin's lack of approval.
The NCC opened on July 4, 2003 and has been a popular component of Independence Park every since. Among its exhibits is Signer's Hall.
The Hall features 42 life-size. bronze statues: the 39 men who signed the US Constitution in 1787 and the three who refused to sign it believing it to be too flawed (George Mason and Edmund Randolph of Virginia and Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts).
Not among those in Signer's Hall.
are statues of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams (both were serving as US Ambassadors in Europe at the time of the Constitutional Convention and signing), or other well-known Founding Fathers such as Samuel Adams and John Hancock (both signed the Declaration of Independence) or Patrick Henry who did not attend the Constitutional Convention because he opposed the creation of a document that he believed would create a powerful central government that would have too much power over its people. He actively opposed its ratification by Virginia until receiving assurances that the amendments in what became known as the Bill of Rights would be added.
In the end, the NCC "survived" without the funds it would have received from the proposed commemorative coin and has flourished in the years since. It's definitely worth a visit if you're ever in Philadelphia! 1987 US Constitution Bicentennial Gold Half Eagle 1987 US Constitution Bicentennial Silver Dollar