Many moons ago, I posted about a proposed silver half dollar for the 125th Anniversary of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. I ended that post with the coinage proposal being withdrawn from consideration in the aftermath of President Herbert Hoover's veto of the Gadsden Purchase 75th Anniversary coin bill. (See link below.)
I meant to return to this post years ago to complete the story I started, but it slipped my mind and was "lost." As I was preparing for another hard disk backup, I decided to do a bit of file clean up and came across my draft for the intended follow-up post. So, I decided to finish it up and post it - better late than never I suppose!
Note: I strongly suggest reading the original post (What If? 1930 Lewis and Clark Expedition 125th Anniversary) for the proper background...A few words about the coin's sponsor...
The sponsor of the coin bill. the Lewis and Clark Memorial Association (LCMA), was formed in 1929 by 20+ representatives of cities/towns in the northwest US who believed that the 1804-05 expedition of the famed explorers had not been adequately commemorated and were disappointed that no national monument existed - just scattered local statues/memorials. The Association was not, however, successful in generating significant national interest in the L&C Expedition 125th Anniversary and was not able to create a large, single-site national monument. It did, however, initiate a new way of thinking about memorials and explored the concept of using roads constructed along the original L&C trail to serve as a monument. It can be said that today's Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, administered by the US National Park Service, conceptually, is the ultimate result of the Association's original efforts (though there is no direct link). Back to the coin...
In my original post, I commented "The sad thing about this is, if the LCM Association would have been willing to consider a medal instead of a coin, a bill for it would have likely gained passage and today collectors of US Mint products would have one more piece to add to the their collections!"
Subsequent to the post, while continuing my research into US commemorative coin legislation, I came across a bill and Hearing Report indicating that the LCM Association was actually very willing to accept a silver commemorative medal in lieu of a coin.
Representative Burton French (R-ID) withdrew his coin proposal from consideration by the House on May 20, 1930. At that point, he had already introduced new legislation (a month earlier, on April 22, 1930) that called for a commemorative medal for the Lewis and Clark 125th anniversary and that bill was already moving through Congress. The language of the bill was rather loose, as it did not specify a desired mintage, a time frame for issue nor the metallic composition of the medal.
The bill was referred to the House Committee on Coinage, Weights and Measures and a Hearing was held on May 5, 1930. During the Hearing, Rep. French recounted the approval difficulties faced by his coin bill, coming as it did at the time of President Hoover's veto of the Gadsden Purchase commemorative coin, but stated that the Chairman of the Committee (Randolph Perkins) and the Treasury Department had each subsequently indicated to him that there would not be any objection to a commemorative medal bill. He did mention that the Treasury Department suggested a shape other than round to distinguish it from coins - maybe another octagonal piece like the Norse-American Centennial medal?
The Hearing was a smooth sail for French's medal bill, though the Committee did recommend amending it to limit mintage of the medals to 100,000 and to state the medals are to be composed of coin silver (vs. bronze). The amended bill was reported out to the full House where it was easily approved. The bill was then referred to the Senate's Committee on the Library. I would have expected the bill to be referred to the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency for consideration. Why the Committee on the Library? I don't know. I do know, however, that the bill languished in that Committee and was never reported out. So, it was never passed by the Senate or presented to the President for final approval and signature.
I have seen coin bills mistakenly referred to the Committee on the Library, but the error was typically identified quickly and the bill referred to the proper Committee for discussion. The Committee on the Library was mostly concerned with statues, monuments, memorials, commemorative markers, etc. not coins or medals. However, I can't find that French's bill referral was ever corrected or that is was considered by the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency.
Two weeks before French introduced his medal bill, on April 9, 1930, Senator John Thomas (R-ID) introduced a bill in the Senate repeating French's 1929 call for a coin rather than being a companion to French's more recent medal bill; the bill was appropriately referred to the Senate's Committee on Banking and Currency where it was never reported out. Was it a lack of communication between the two Idahoan politicians that led to opposing bills? I wonder if the fate of French's medal bill was negatively impacted by political motivations rather than by doing what was best for the LCM Association?
IMO, Rep. French had the better approach (his had Treasury approval!) and his bill would likely have found success if it was presented to the full Senate.
In the end, as I stated at the end of my original post, there was no US Mint-struck commemorative piece for the 125th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark expedition. What might have been - I know I would have enjoyed adding another silver octagonal medal to my collection!1904 Lewis and Clark Exposition Gold $1.00 - Obverse - Captain Meriwether Lewis1904 Lewis and Clark Exposition Gold $1.00 - Reverse - Captain William Clark
To read the original post about the commemorative half dollar for the Lewis and Clark 125th Anniversary:
- What If? 1930 Lewis and Clark Expedition 125th Anniversary
To learn more about the vetoed Gadsden Purchase proposed half dollar:
- Gadsden Purchase 75th Anniversary
For other of my posts about commemorative coins and medals, including many "What If?" stories, see: Read More: Commems Collection