Bills seek commemoratives honoring U.S. Marshals Service

2015 coins would celebrate service’s 225th anniversary in 2014
Published : 04/29/11
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Two bills were introduced in Congress March 2, each calling for 2015 commemorative coins honoring the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Marshals Service.

Although both pieces of legislation seek commemorative coins for 2015, the agency will celebrate its 225th anniversary in 2014. The U.S. Marshals were the first federal law enforcement officers in America, established under the Judiciary Act of Sept. 24, 1789. The act was signed into law by George Washington.

In 1969, by order of the Department of Justice, the U.S. Marshals Service was created.

If either of the bills is passed, it would authorize the first commemorative coins to honor the agency. The bills’ Arkansas sponsors hope that commemorative coins will bring national and international attention to the lasting legacy of the nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agency.

Bills calling for commemorative coins honoring the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Marshals Service were introduced by Arkansas legislators in 2009 and 2010 in the previous Congress. These were unsuccessful.

In the House

In the House, Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., introduced H.R. 886, which calls for up to 100,000 gold $5 coins, up to 500,000 silver dollars and not more than 750,000 copper-nickel clad half dollars, each in Proof and Uncirculated versions, with designs “emblematic of the exemplary and unparalleled achievements of the United States Marshals Service.”

If approved, the coins would carry the date 2015 and the anniversary years 1789 and 2014.

The obverse of the $5 coin would carry the U.S. Marshals Service Star.

The reverse of the gold $5 coin would carry a design emblematic of the sacrifice and service of the men and women of the U.S. Marshals Service who lost their lives in the line of duty and include the service’s motto, “Justice, Integrity, Service.”

For the silver dollar, the obverse would again depict “America’s Star” while the reverse would have a design “emblematic of the United States Marshals legendary status in America’s cultural landscape. The image should depict Marshals as the lawmen of our frontiers, including their geographic, political, or cultural history, and shall include the Marshals Service motto ‘Justice, Integrity, Service.’ ”

If approved, the copper-nickel clad half dollar’s obverse would differ from the designs on the silver dollar and $5 coin in that it would bear a design emblematic of the U.S. Marshals Service and its history.

The reverse of the half dollar would have an image consistent with the role that the group has played in the nation’s history, with the legislation specifying: “The image should show the ties that the Marshals have to the United States Constitution, with themes including — (I) the Whiskey Rebellion and rule of law; (II) slavery and the legacy of inequality; and (III) the struggle between labor and capital.”

The bill calls for the designs to be selected on the basis of realism and historical accuracy, adding, “and on the extent to which the images are reminiscent of the dramatic and beautiful artwork on coins of the so-called ‘Golden Age of Coinage’ in the United States, at the beginning of the 20th Century, with the participation of such noted sculptors and medallic artists as James Earle Fraser, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Victor David Brenner, Adolph A. Weinman, Charles E. Barber, and George T. Morgan.”

The House bill currently has 13 co-sponsors and on April 4 was referred to the Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology.

Surcharges to museum

The first $5 million in surcharges (after the Mint has recouped its costs in producing and marketing the programs) of $35 per coin for the $5 coin, $10 per coin for the silver dollar and $3 per copper-nickel clad half dollar would be distributed to the U.S. Marshals Museum Inc., for the preservation, maintenance and display of artifacts and documents.

The museum will be located in Fort Smith, Ark.

A link on the U.S. Marshals Museum website, found at, encourages interested parties to write to their senators and representatives asking them to co-sponsor and support the legislation.

Excess surcharge amounts would be distributed in equal parts to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association Foundation.

In the Senate

The Senate’s version of the bill, S. 431, was introduced on March 2, by Sen. Mark L. Pryor, D-Ark., and John Boozman, R-Ark.

The language in the Senate bill is similar to the legislation introduced in the House and calls for the coins to be produced on or after Jan. 1, 2015, excluding a limited number of coins struck for presentation purposes.

The Senate’s bill has been read twice and referred to the Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. It has 11 co-sponsors.

Bills calling for commemorative coins honoring the 225th anniversary of the U.S. Marshals Service were introduced by Arkansas legislators in 2009 and 2010 in both the House and Senate.

Those pieces of legislation differed from the currently offered bills in many ways, including in that the earlier measures called for only the production of silver dollars and gold $5 coins.

The 2009 legislation called for the coins to be dated 2014 while the 2010 legislation called for the dual date 2014-2015.

A press release posted to Sen. Pryor’s Web site on March 3 referred to the version of the bill introduced in 2010 that called for 2014-dated silver dollars and gold $5 coins rather than the bill he introduced on March 2, which calls for 2015-dated gold $5 coins, silver dollars and copper-nickel clad half dollars.

If passed, either measure would authorize the first commemorative coin program for 2015.

One program is authorized by law already for 2014 — silver dollars to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

By law, Congress may not authorize more than two commemorative coin programs for a given year, meaning that the anniversary year of 2014 remains available. ■

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