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Commems Collection: What If? 1969 Sam Rayburn - Library

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 Posted 04/01/2023  6:33 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
I previously posted about a proposal for a commemorative half dollar that was to celebrate the extended public service career of long-time Congressman and Speaker of the US House of Representatives Sam Rayburn. You can read it here: What If? 1962 Sam Rayburn - Life and Legacy.

A second attempt to secure a half dollar to honor Sam Rayburn was made in 1969 - and again in 1971 and in 1973 - via multiple bills introduced in the House of Representatives and Senate. The bills sought the striking of silver half dollars "to commemorate the life of the Honorable Sam Rayburn and to assist in the support of the Sam Rayburn Library."

Representative Herbert Ray Roberts (D-TX) was the primary driver of the bills in Congress, but certainly not alone in his desire to put coin legislation that honored Sam Rayburn in front of Congress. As evidence of the respect and affection many members of the House still had for the former Speaker - he died in 1961 - Roberts introduced each of his bills on behalf of himself and 20 or more fellow Representatives.

Roberts' first two bills were introduced in 1969. Each included the names of 24 additional Representatives who served as bill co-sponsors.

The bills called for a range of half dollars: the mintage was to be a minimum of 250,000 and a maximum of 500,000 coins. Their language did not restrict the number of Mint facilities that could be engaged (i.e., P/D/S sets were a definite possibility), nor did the bills define a year/date to appear on the coins or set an expiration date for their coining authority. All such provisions were red flags!

The Sam Rayburn Foundation was the listed sponsor for the coin, and was to be responsible for ordering, paying for, receiving and selling the coins. It was directed that the use of the net proceeds from coin sales were to "be used solely for the support of the Sam Rayburn Library."

Sam Rayburn himself was behind the initial drive to establish his library. He provided the initial $10,000 seed money for the project and led additional fundraising efforts. Rayburn established the Library in Bonham, Texas - his adopted hometown and where he lived for the last 50+ years of his life. He intended the Library to house his books, papers and mementos for research by those interested in his life and career as well as US history; in addition to Rayburn artifacts, the Library contains Rayburn's personal collection of books on US history, biographies of major figures and a complete run of the Congressional Record.

Sam Rayburn Library with Sam Rayburn Statue in Front

(Image CreditL Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. Public Domain.

The Sam Rayburn Foundation administered/operated the Library from the start of its construction in 1955, through its dedication and opening in 1957 and on through 1990. Beginning in January 1991, the Library's ownership was transferred to the University of Texas at Austin and was incorporated into the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, where it continues to the present. The Library's name was changed to the Sam Rayburn Museum in 2012.

Rogers' 1969 bills were not reported out of Committee, and so were not taken up for consideration in the House. The effort was renewed, however, in early 1971 with the introduction of several bills in the House and Senate. John William Wright Patman (D-TX) began the effort in February with a bill that featured 22 co-sponsors (including Roberts). Roberts himself immediately followed with two additional bills with 20+ co-sponsors each. In March, Representative Seymour Halpern (D-NY) joined the "party" (a bit late) with a companion bill. Also in March, John Goodwin Tower (R-TX), on behalf of himself and Lloyd Miller Bentsen, Jr. (D-TX), introduced a companion bill in the Senate. Though the Senate bill was sponsored by Texas' two Senators, it did not feature the widespread co-sponsorship seen with the Roberts and Patman bills in the House.

Unfortunately for the Library, none of the bills was reported out of Committee and all died with the adjournment of the 92nd Congress in October 1972.

New attempts for Rayburn coins were made in the 93rd Congress, with Olin Earl Teague (D-TX) and Representative Roberts each introducing a bill; gone were the dozens of co-sponsors at this point, however. Each of the bills was referred to Committee, but never reported. Coins for the Sam Rayburn Library were not to be!

IMO, the bills faced at least two significant obstacles: 1) their structure/provisions did not align with the guidelines put in place for US commemorative coin proposals years before (they are too open-ended and could potentially abuse collectors), and 2) the US Treasury Department was still against the issue of US commemorative coins and challenged every proposal - its opposition was difficult to overcome.

Side Note: Shortly after Rayburn's death in 1961, the US Mint struck a medal in his honor. Seems like a good topic for a future post...

For other of my posts about commemorative coins and medals, including many more of my What If? posts, see: Commems Collection.

Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
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 Posted 04/01/2023  7:15 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Great read as always, thanks!
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 Posted 04/01/2023  8:02 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Jess1234 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Very interesting! Thanks for that!
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 Posted 04/01/2023  8:57 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Spence to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Not just a medal, but the dude also got a submarine named after him (now decommissioned):

Thx as always for helping me learn something @comm!
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 Posted 04/02/2023  06:28 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nickelsearcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Those Representatives and Senators from Texas were quite committed to getting their man a coin! It takes two hands to count the number of commemorative coin proposals on Mr. Rayburn's behalf.

Seems like a good topic for a future post...

I salute that idea and look forward to reading it someday.
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