I recently posted about a potential circulating commemorative coin to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Lousiana Purchase in 1803. (Read it here: 1953 Louisiana Purchase 150th Anniversary - Circulation Issue
In response to the post, nickelsearcher stated:
Quote:Fortuitous that you should bring it up...I was preparing a post about just such a coin proposal at the time and your question serves as an ideal lead-in.
This example IMO would have been worthy of a 1-year standard terms commemorate issue to commemorate the 150th anniversary of what is undoubtedly an event of national significance.
Interesting that neither Mr.Boggs nor Mr. Curtis did not try this approach. They likely had information leading them to believe it would not have been successful - but why?
Representative Thomas Hale Boggs, Sr. (D-LA), sponsor of the circulation coin bill, introduced a not-intended-for- circulation (NIFC) / collector coin bill in January 1953, about two weeks after he introduced his circulating commemorative coin bill. (As noted in the previous thread, Thomas Bradford Curtis (R-MO) introduced a duplicate circulating coin bill in February 1953.) Boggs' new bill called for up to five million half dollars for the benefit of the Louisiana Purchase One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary Association ("Association"). Boggs' NIFC coin bill was referred to the House Committee on Banking and Currency.
In March 1953, Russell Billiu Long (D-LA), on behalf of himself and Allen Joseph Ellender (D-LA), introduced a parallel NIFC coin bill in the Senate; it called for the same maximum mintage and named the same sponsor/beneficiary. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency, where it stayed while the Boggs bill moved forward.
The House Committee held a joint Hearing on the new Boggs NIFC coin bill and the Curtis bill in March 1953. By the time of the Hearing, Boggs and Curtis had joined forces to make the NIFC coin their priority and were working together to move it through the House. The Association was invited to testify at the Hearing, as was a new sponsor - the Missouri Historical Society ("Society").
Though not part of the official records of Congress, to me, the timing of Boggs' collector-coin bill suggests that he had received some off-the-record feedback on his previous commemorative bill and learned that it was not going to move forward with the Committee on Banking and Currency as written.
At the Hearing, the focus was on Boggs' NIFC bill (vs. the Curtis bill). Boggs was a former member of the Committee, and the Hearing began with an exchange of pleasantries/compliments between Boggs and the Committee. When Boggs got down to business, he stated that he believed his proposed coin was "thoroughly justified under the policy of the committee which we adopted when I was a member of the committee. As I recall that policy, it was determined that thereafter commemorative coins would be limited to great historical events commemorating the centennial or sesquicentennial or bicentennial, and so on, of the admission of the States of the Union, or other great historical events in the history of our country.
"Certainly the purchase of Louisiana by President Jefferson ranks with the great events in the history of America."
Boggs believed the Louisiana Purchase to rank with the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution in importance in US history - it just might!
To help highlight the significance of the event he proposed to commemorate with a half dollar, Boggs reviewed a list of "lesser event" US commemorative coins authorized in the 20 years prior.
Boggs and Curtis brought witnesses to the Hearing from the Association and the Society, respectively, to the Hearing. Admiral Thomas John Ryan, Retired spoke on behalf of the Association and the Louisiana Sesquicentennial Commission, while William H. Semsrott represented the Society. Beside being a director of the Missouri Historical Society, Semsrott was also the president of the St. Louis Retailers Association.
Semsrott touted the museum of the Society and its educational/research activities. "It is not a dead museum in any sense of the word, gentleman. We pride ourselves in St. Louis on our Missouri Historical Society in that it is an institution of real public service." He noted that the Society was also the repository for over 1 million historical documents "in connection with the entire Louisiana Purchase." In his view, it was very appropriate that the Society be a part of the Sesquicentennial celebration.
Attention then turned to Louisiana and its plans for the Sesquicentennial. Mr. Boggs introduced the State's involvement - including reference to the State-created Louisiana Sesquicentennial Commission - and Admiral Ryan discussed the Association and its planned participation.
The Committee was interested in learning of other organizations created in states other than Louisiana and Missouri, that planned to celebrate the Sesquicentennial. Neither Boggs, Ryan nor Semsrott could provide a comprehensive list, but all did their best to convey the widespread level of involvement by the states of the Mississippi Riiver Valley and the States derived from the original Louisiana Territory. A bit of foreshadowing for what the Committee was to recommend in its Report on the Boggs bill. (See Part II.)
Admiral Ryan spent much of his statement to the Committee discussing the history of the Louisiana Purchase and the many benefits it brought to the United States. If anyone on the Committee was unfamiliar with the history, Ryan's comments provided a good introduction.Continue the story in Part II