Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Veto of Bill Authorizing Commemorative Coinage for the Sesquicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase.

February 03, 1954

To the House of Representatives:

I am returning herewith, without my approval, H.R. 1917, "To authorize the coinage of So-cent pieces to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase."

The proposed legislation would authorize the coinage of not to exceed two and one-half million silver So-cent pieces in commemoration of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase.

The principal objection to commemorative coins is that they detract from the fundamental function of the coinage as a medium of exchange. Multiplicity of designs on United States coins would tend to create confusion among the public, and to facilitate counterfeiting. The Congress recognized the necessity for limiting the designs of coins by section 3510 of the Revised Statutes which provides that: "... no change in the design or die of any coin shall be made oftener than once in twenty-five years from and including the year of the first adoption of the design, model, die, or hub for the same coin: "

I am further advised by the Treasury Department that in the past in many instances the public interest in these special coins has been so short-lived that their sales for the purposes intended have lagged with the result that large quantities have remained unsold and have been returned to the mints for melting.

I fully recognize the importance to the country of the event which this coin would commemorate. I recognize, too, that the authorization of one or two or three of such issues of coins would not do major harm. However, experience has demonstrated that the authorization of even a single commemorative issue brings forth a flood of other authorizations to commemorate events or anniversaries of local or national importance. In the administration of President Hoover, these authorizations multiplied to the point where he felt compelled to exercise his veto. The same pattern recurred in the administrations of Presidents Roosevelt and Truman. In view of this historical pattern, which by now has become so clear, I think that it is both wiser and fairer to make known my views on this subject at the outset. I therefore regretfully withhold my approval of H.R. 1917.

As has been suggested in the past, it seems to me wholly appropriate that anniversaries like this one, which the Congress deems it desirable to commemorate, should be recognized by bills authorizing the Treasury to provide suitable commemorative medals at cost.


Dwight D. Eisenhower, Veto of Bill Authorizing Commemorative Coinage for the Sesquicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232804

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