Legislation introduced Tuesday, September 20, calls for $50 gold, silver dollar and 50-cent clad commemorative coins to honor James Monroe, the fifth president of the United States.
Presented by Rep. Rob Wittman, R-VA, as the James Monroe Commemorative Coin Act and numbered H.R. 2968, the bill would authorize the United States Mint to offer each commemorative coin in calendar year 2016 — the bicentennial of Monroe’s election. The legislation marks a second attempt at passage. Wittman introduced a nearly identical bill in December 2009, numbered H.R. 4329. That bill died due to inaction.
Commemorative Coin Designs
H.R. 2968 includes obverse and reverse design requirements which are more detailed than most coinage legislation. The bill’s language states the obverses shall bear a side profile of Monroe based on Rembrandt Peale’s 1830 portrait.
The reverses would depict Monroe’s birthplace "as drawn by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation based on the 1830 drawing published as an etching."
Mandated inscriptions include each coin’s value, the year ‘2016, ‘Liberty’, ‘In God We Trust’, ‘United States of America’, and ‘E Pluribus Unum’.
Commemorative Coin Specifications
Typical legislation for modern commemorative coins composed of gold dictates a denomination of $5 with nearly one quarter-ounce of gold. The James Monroe Commemorative Coin Act, however, calls for a much larger coin that is denominated at $50, weighs 33.931 grams, has a diameter of 32.7 millimeters, and contains one full ounce of the yellow precious metal.
H.R. 2968’s language also provides specifications for:
Silver dollars composed of 90% silver and 10% copper, each with a diameter of 1.5 inches and a weight of 26.73 grams
Half dollar clad coins, each with a weight of 11.34 grams and diameter of 1.205 inches
Commemorative coin mintages for the $50 gold piece, silver dollar and half-dollar would be 20,000; 275,000; and 500,000, respectively.
As is common with commemorative legislation, a surcharge would be added to the sale of all Monroe coins with $35 for the gold pieces, $10 for the silver dollars and $5 for the clad coins. The surcharge would be forwarded to the James Monroe Memorial Foundation and used to continue that organization’s goals.
Status of James Monroe Commemorative Coin Act
H.R. 2968 has been referred to the House Committee on Financial Services.
James Monroe has recently been honored on a major U.S. coin, and that may hurt H.R. 2968’s chances for passage. Monroe’s image was featured on the fifth Presidential dollar, which was the first of four in 2008 released by the United States Mint.
For the James Monroe Commemorative Coin Act become law, it must pass in the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate and get signed by the president.
Brief Monroe Bio
James Monroe served two terms as president, lasting from 1817 to 1825. His presidency is known for ushering in the "Era of Good Feelings" — a time of peace and economy prosperity for America.
Monroe, who fought in the American Revolutionary War, rose to success by serving as a Senator, an Ambassador to France — in fact, he helped negotiate the Louisiana Purchase, Ambassador to the UK, Governor of Virginia, the 7th Secretary of State, and the 8th Secretary of War. The politician from Virginia was noted for his honesty by Thomas Jefferson who said, "Monroe was so honest that if you turned his soul inside out there would not be a spot on it."
A few of his accomplishments while President included the purchase of Florida, limiting the expansion of slavery, the admission of Missouri and Maine as states, and introducing what has become known as the Monroe Doctrine.