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COINAGE OF 50-CENT PIECES IN COMMEMORATION OF

THE SESQUICENTENNIAL OF SURRENDER OF CORNWALLIS AT YORKTOWN

APRIL 2, 1930

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON COINAGE, WEIGHTS, AND MEASURES,

Washington, D.C. The CHAIRMAN. The committee will now hear Mr. Fitzgerald discuss the bill introduced by him, H. R. 8923, to authorize the coinage of 50-cent pieces in commemoration of the Sesquicentennial of the Surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown.

(The bill referred to is printed in full, as follows):

[H. R. 8923 (superseded by H. R. 11008), Seventy-first Congress, second session]

A BILL To authorize the coinage of 50-cent pieces in commemoration of the sesquicentennial of the sur

render of Cornwallis at Yorktown

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That in commemoration of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the end of the Revolutionary War by the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, there shall be coined by the Director of the Mint five hundred thousand 50-cent pieces of standard size, weight, and silver fineness and of a special appropriate design to be fixed by the Director of the Mint, with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury, to be legal tender in all payments at face value.

Sec. 2. That the coins herein authorized shall be issued at par and only upon the request of the chairman or secretary of the Yorktown Sesquicentennial Commission appointed by Congress.

Sec. 3. Such coins may be disposed of at par or at a premium by said commission and all proceeds shall be used in furtherance of the Yorktown sesquicentennial and memorial projects including a monument commemorating the aid from France and the French commanders, Admiral de Grasse and Count de Rochambeau.

Sec. 4. That all laws now in force relating to the subsidiary silver coins of the United States and the coining or striking of the same, regulating and guarding the process of coinage, providing for the purchase of material, and for the transportation, distribution, and redemption of the coins, for the prevention of debasement or counterfeiting, for security of the coin, or for any other purpose, whether said laws are penal or otherwise, shall, so far as applicable, apply to the coinage herein directed.

(H. R. 11008, Seventy-first Congress, second session] A BILL To authorize the coinage of 50-cent pieces in commemoration of the sesquicentennial of the sur

render of Cornwallis at Yorktown Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States oj America in Congress assembled, That in commemoration of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the end of the Revolutionary War by the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, there shall be coined by the Director of the Mint five hundred thousand 50-cent pieces of standard size, weight, and silver fineness and of a special appropriate design to be fixed by the Director of the Mint, with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury, to be legal tender in all payments at face value.

1

SEC. 2. That the coins herein authorized shall be issued at par and only upon the request of the chairman or secretary of the United States Yorktown Sesquicentennial Commission.

SEC. 3. Such coins may be disposed of at par or at a premium by said commission and all proceeds shall be used in furtherance of the Yorktown sesquicentennial and memorial projects.

SEC. 4. That all laws now in force relating to the subsidiary silver coins of the United States and the coining or striking of the same, regulating and guarding the process of coinage, providing for the purchase of material, and for the transportation, distribution, and redemption of the coins, for the prevention of debasement or counterfeiting, for security of the coin or for any other purpose, whether said laws are penal or otherwise, shall, so far as applicable, apply to the coinage herein directed.

STATEMENT OF HON. ROY G. FITZGERALD, A .REPRESENTATIVE

IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF OHIO

Mr. FITZGERALD. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, that bill, H. R. 8923, was superseded by the introduction of a new bill, H. R. 11008, because some language in the original bill seemed to be too restrictive in limiting the amount realized from the sale of the coins to the glorification of De Grasse and certain others, since a monument has already been built to De Grasse and others at Yorktown, so this bill, H. R. 11008, does not have the restriction or limitation in it. It strikes out in lines 8, 9, and 10, on page 2, the provision for "A monument commemorating the aid from France and the French commanders, Admiral de Grasse and Count de Rochambeau.

I introduced these bills at the direction of the United States Yorktown Sesquicentennial Commission. It is not an individual matter. The Yorktown Sesquicentennial Commission was organized about a year ago and consists of a certain number of Senators and a certain number of Members of the House of Representatives, and it has filed a preliminary report (H. Rept. No. 569, January 31, 1930) setting forth what the commission expects to do in the way of celebrating the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the surrender of the British forces under Cornwallis at Yorktown, the end of the Revolutionary War. Of course, the plans of the commission are quite extensive, and we hope that the celebration will reach into every school in the United States. If the exercises at Yorktown are as elaborate as those at the one hundredth anniversary in 1881, the British Fleet and the French Fleet will be present; also the descendants of distinguished foreign participants in the siege of Yorktown.

The Senate has already passed a resolution (S. J. Res. 135, March 25, 1930) authorizing the President to invite foreign governments to participate, and our own Foreign Relations Committee is considering our House Joint Resolution 239 to determine if they will extend the invitation specifically to Holland, which was participating in the struggle against Great Britain at the time by loaning us money, also Spain and others. I give that as a sort of background. The Postmaster General has undertaken to issue a very fine stamp with a reproduction of Trumbull's painting of The Surrender of Cornwallis, and so in accordance with the request of the commission I am here before the committee this morning on behalf of this bill for the coin age of five hundred thousand 50-cent pieces.

I would like to have introduced in the record, if I may ask this with propriety, quite a long letter which I received from the Secretary of the Treasury in which he gave me, at my request, the figures on all the coins of this nature that have been issued by the Government commencing with the Columbian Exposition, 1892-93, and followed, of course, by the Lewis and Clark, Panama-Pacific, McKinley Memorial, Landing of the Pilgrims, and so forth. The number of coins authorized, the number actually minted, and the number of coins returned to the mint, without reading the letter, the contents of which are, I assumed, well known to the committee, it will suffice to say that the Treasury Department feels that it should take a position discouraging the issue of this kind of coin for several reasons; one is that it adds to the work of the Treasury Department Secret Service in preventing the counterfeiting of the coins of the United States because they are of legal tender. As far as I know there has never been an instance of the counterfeiting of any of those coins. Very few go into general circulation. The second objection is that the mints are rather overworked and the profits to the Government, apparently, do not appear in any report to the credit of the Treasury Department when coins like these are minted, and there is a certain amount of time and labor and annoyance to the Treasury Department for which it gets little appreciation or credit.

So after having read this letter I wrote to the Secretary of the Treasury calling his attention to the great drop in the price of silver from $1.36 an ounce some years ago to 4072 cents an ounce at the present time, and asked Mr. Mellon how much profit the United States Government could make-not credit of the Treasury Department--but how much profit would result to the United States Government if 200,000 of these coins were minted, and of course not returned out of the authorized amount of 500,000. I would like therefore to introduce this reply, to which I appended the appropriate calculation;

TREASURY DEPARTMENT,

Washington, March 18, 1930. Hon. Roy G. FITZGERALD,

House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. DEAR CONGRESSMAN FITZGERALD: I have for acknowledgment your letter of March 8, relative to the proposed issue of 50-cent pieces for the sesquicentennial of the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown.

The cost of manufacturing 200,000 commemorative half dollars would be as follows: Coinage charges

$1,500.00 Silver, at the Mar. 15, 1930, market rate of 41 cents per fine ounce - 29, 660. 00 Copper for alloy, at the current market price of 18 cents per avoirdupois pound

99. 36 If the department can serve you further, please do not hesitate to call upon us. Respectfully,

A. W. MELLON,

Secretary of the Treasury. $29, 660, 00 1, 500.00

99. 36

31, 259. 36

100, 000. 00 31, 259. 36

68, 740. 64 net profitt o United States Government on 200,000 coins. 171, 851. 60 net profit; o United States Government on 500,000 coins.

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