In a rare display of overwhelming bipartisan support, the House of Representatives passed three numismatic related bills. One was the Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle Ultra-High Relief Bullion Coin Act that was passed 415-0 (18 not voting) that will allow the US Mint to strike the high relief 24-karat gold coins featuring the Augustus Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle design.
On a vote of 403-8 (22 not voting), the House passed H.R. 5872, Boy Scouts of America Centennial Commemorative Coin Act. If passed by the Senate and signed by the President, this bill will authorize the Mint to strike one dollar proof and uncirculated silver coins to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Scouting in the United States in 2010. The bill stipulates that the coins can be only struck at one Mint facility and would be distributed starting February 8, 2010. A $10 surcharge will be added to the price of the coins that will be paid to the National Boy Scouts of America Foundation.
In 1814, Baltimore attorney Francis Scott Key joined Colonel John Stuart Skinner aboard the HMS Tonnant to negotiate a prisoner exchange for Dr. William Beanes, a Maryland resident who was captured during the British attack on Washington, DC. After Key and Skinner dined with the ship’s senior officers, the three men were not allowed to return to Baltimore. That evening, the British spent part of 25-hours bombing Fort McHenry in the Baltimore Harbor.
In the morning, Key awoke to the view of the flag still flying over Fort McHenry. This inspired Key to write the four-stanza poem “The Defense of Fort McHenry“ which he said should be sung to the tune of The Anacreontic Song.
Over the years, the poem’s popularity would gain and then wane. On July 27, 1889, Secretary of the Navy Benjamin F. Tracy signed a general order making “The Star-Spangled Banner” the official song to be played when raising the flag.
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed an executive order to have the “Star-Spangled Banner” be played by the military and for other “appropriate occasions.” After a controversy brewed when a cartoon announced, “Believe It or Not, America has no national anthem,” President Herbert Hoover signed the law making it the official National Anthem in 1931.
To honor the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and Key’s poem that became our national anthem, the House passed H.R. 2894, Star-Spangled Banner and War of 1812 Bicentennial Commemorative Coin Act. The bill calls for one-ounce proof and uncirculated silver coins designed to be “emblematic of the War of 1812 and particularly the Battle for Fort McHenry that formed the basis for the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’.“ Coins will be issued during 2012. The $10 surcharge will be paid to the Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission to help in its role of providing education, research, and celebrating the bicentennial of the War of 1812.
All of these bills must be passed by the Senate and signed by the President before they become law.