In October 1951, Carey Estes Kefauver (D-TN) introduced in the Senate a bill calling for half dollar coins "in recognition of the outstanding services of Cordell Hull to this Nation and to the cause of peace through economic cooperation, the establishment of the United Nations, and the furtherance of mutual understanding among the peoples of the world."Cordell Hull Portrait - Circa 1939(Image Credit: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. Public Domain.)
Cordell Hull served the State of Tennessee in the US House of Representatives (1922-31) and US Senate (1931-33), before being named US Secretary of State (SoS) by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR); he served in the SoS position from 1933 to 1944.
He is most remembered for his time as Secretary of State and his central role in the creation of the United Nations; he worked with FDR during World War II to create the organization's core principles and then worked with his staff to draft the Charter of the United Nations
- the foundational document of the organization. His efforts on behalf of the United Nations earned him the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1945; he was nominated by FDR.
The coins were to be struck on behalf of the Cordell IIull Foundation for International Education, University Center, Nashville, Tennessee. The Foundation was charted in 1951 at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. It is a "non-governmental, non-profit organization established for international understanding and peace through educational and cultural exchange." (Cordell Hull Foundation web site, https://cordellhull.com/history/)
The Foundation remains active to the present day.
The bill called for half dollars of standard specifications, but did not specify a mintage figure; the bill's language, however, was structured such that a maximum mintage figure would be inserted once determined. The bill allowed for its sponsor to secure its coins "in such numbers and at such times as shall be requested." With no expiration date/year included, the bill would have created an open-ended commemorative program that could have been used as an ongoing fund-raising tool by the Foundation. (The timing of the bill certainly suggests that funds from coin sales were intended to be used to financially support the activities of the new organization.)
The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency, but was never reported out or considered on the Senate floor. As no companion bill was introduced in the House of Representatives, the Senate's inaction on the bill signalled its failure.
The US has not issued a Congressionally-authorized commemorative piece to mark the formation of tthe United Nations - many privately-struck medals and world coins have been, however. Considering the US' role in its creation, and its ongoing support for the international organization, I view this as an unfortunate oversight. I think a coin honoring Hull and the UN organization would have been a meaningful and appropriate addition to the US series.
For other of my topics on commemorative coins and medals, including many more What If? stories, see: Commems Collection