A bill has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives calling for the secretary of the Treasury to mint gold $50 coins, silver dollars and copper-nickel clad half dollars in honor of President James Monroe in 2016.
H.R. 2968, the James Monroe Commemorative Coin Act, was introduced Sept. 20 by Rep. Robert J. Wittman, R-Va.. It has been referred to the House Committee on Financial Services where it sits with no cosponsors. Rep. Wittman introduced a similar piece of legislation, H.R. 4329, on Dec. 16, 2009, which failed to make it out of its committee.
The bill calls for the production of not more than 275,000 silver dollars and up to 500,000 half dollars in Uncirculated and Proof versions. Most noteworthy is the inclusion of not more than 20,000 gold $50 coins weighing 33.931 grams, with a diameter of 32.7 millimeters containing a troy ounce of fine gold. If approved, these would be the first commemorative gold $50 coins since the famous round and octagonal 1915-S Panama Pacific International Exposition gold commemorative coins.
Active service in war
The findings section of the bill notes that Monroe was the only U.S. president besides George Washington to have actively served in the regular military during the Revolutionary War. He served at the state level in the Virginia House of Delegates and served four times as the governor of Virginia.
The legislation adds that as president, his accomplishments included the purchase of Florida, limiting the expansion of slavery, the admission of Maine and Missouri as states, and the “Monroe Doctrine” on Dec. 2, 1823, which expanded the concept of “hemispheric independence” beyond the United States.
The coins would be dated 2016, in recognition of the bicentennial of the election of Monroe as president.
The design of the coins are to be emblematic of Monroe and his contributions to the nation. The obverses would bear a side profile image of Monroe based on Rembrandt Peale’s 1830 portrait, which the James Monroe Memorial Foundation donated to the commonwealth of Virginia in 1964. The reverse would bear an image of Monroe’s birthplace as created by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation based on an 1830 drawing.
Under the provisions of the bill, “For each of the 3 coins minted under this Act, at least 1 facility of the United States Mint shall be used to strike proof quality coins, while at least 1 other such facility shall be used to strike the uncirculated quality coins.”
Surcharges of $35 per coin for the $50 coin and $10 and $5 for the dollar and half dollar, respectively, would be paid to the James Monroe Memorial Foundation to help develop and support farm buildings and a visitor and education center at Monroe’s birthplace in Westmoreland County, Virginia. Proceeds would also be used to support education programs about Monroe including an online library, and to collect and preserve artifacts and historical items related to Monroe.
Under provisions of the U.S. Code, surcharges would only be paid after all numismatic operation and program costs allocable to the program under which the coins are produced and sold have been recovered. In addition, under Title 31, Section 5134(f), surcharges would be paid only after “the designated recipient organization submits an audited financial statement that demonstrates, to the satisfaction of the Secretary, that, with respect to all projects or purposes for which the proceeds of such surcharge may be used, the organization has raised funds from private sources for such projects and purposes in an amount that is equal to or greater than the total amount of the proceeds of such surcharge derived from the sale of such numismatic item.”
The Monroe legislation joins a bill introduced July 7 in the house seeking coins dated 2016 honoring writer Mark Twain.
Current law limits commemorative coin programs to two per year. ■