In July 1946, Senator Harry Flood Byrd (D-VA) introduced a Joint Resolution in the Senate that called for half dollars "in commemoration of the settlement of Jamestown Island, Virginia, and in celebration of the opening of the Jamestown Drama." Upon its introduction, the Resolution was referred to the Committee on Banking and Currency.
The Resolution was somewhat unusual for the era, as it included a fairly long. multi-point list of Jamestown historical milestones/achievements as a preamble to its coin-specific provisions. (In modern era coin bills, such items are more common and are typically included in a "Findings" section within a bill/resolution , though not all include such a section.)
The historical milestones noted: Whereas Jamestown, Virginia, was the site of the first permanent English settlement in the New World; and
Whereas Jamestown was the colonial capital of Virginia from 1698; and
Whereas the first representative legislative assembly in North America was held at Jamestown in 1619; and
Whereas the first Anglican church in America was erected at Jamestown; and
Whereas the most stirring scenes of Bacon's Rebellion and many other incidents of outstanding historical interest occurred at Jamestown; and
Whereas Jamestown symbolizes the beginning of the colonial period of the United States; and
Whereas, on or about July 1, 1947, the Jamestown Drama, a nonprofit organization comprised of public-spirited citizens of Virginia, will begin a series of dramatic presentations depicting the significant historical events connected with the settlement and development of colonial Jamestown, and the lives of its settlers and early inhabitants.
The resolution sought a mintage of up to 250,000 silver 50-cent pieces of standard specification, all of which were to be struck at one Mint facility. All coins were to bear the year/date "1947" regardless of when struck and the coin's authorization was to expire on July 1, 1948. The minimum order size was 25,000 coins, and coins could only be ordered by Jamestown Drama. Net proceeds from sale of the coins were to go toward expenses of events celebrating Jamestown's anniversary and for the staging of the dramatic historical presentations planned by Jamestown Drama.
The Resolution was never reported out of the Committee, and thus died for lack of action. While the Committee's silence on the bill may have been due to a lack of support for it, it may also have been related to how late the Resolution was introduced in the Session. Congress was set to adjourn about two weeks after the Resolution was introduced, and more pressing matters may have been the Committee's focus. The picture would become clearer in the next session of Congress.
See What If? 1947 Jamestown Drama - Part II
for the conclusion of the story.