Lexington–Concord Sesquicentennial half dollar

Lexington–Concord Sesquicentennial half dollar
United States
Value50 cents (0.50 US dollars)
Mass12.5 g
Diameter30.61 mm
Thickness2.15 mm (0.08 in)
EdgeReeded
Composition
  • 90.0% silver
  • 10.0% copper
Silver0.36169 troy oz
Years of minting1925
Mintage162,099 including 99 pieces for the Assay Commission
Mint marksNone, all pieces struck at Philadelphia Mint without mint mark.
Obverse
1925 50C Lexington.jpg
DesignThe Minute Man by Daniel Chester French, Concord, Massachusetts
DesignerChester Beach
Design date1925
Reverse
1925 50C Lexington.jpg
DesignOld Belfry, Lexington, Massachusetts
DesignerChester Beach
Design date1925

The Lexington–Concord Sesquicentennial half dollar, sometimes the Lexington–Concord half dollar or Patriot half dollar, is a commemorative fifty-cent piece struck by the United States Bureau of the Mint in 1925 in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, which began the American Revolutionary War. It was designed by Chester Beach.

Members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation introduced legislation in 1924 which would provide for a commemorative half dollar for the anniversary. The bill passed both houses of Congress and was signed by President Calvin Coolidge. Beach had to satisfy committees from both Lexington and Concord, and the Commission of Fine Arts passed the design only reluctantly, feeling Beach had been given poor materials to work with.

The coins were sold for $1 at the anniversary celebrations in Lexington and in Concord; they were also sold at banks across New England. Although just over half of the authorized mintage of 300,000 was struck, almost all the coins that were minted were sold. Depending on condition, they are catalogued in the hundreds of dollars.

Background

The Battles of Lexington and Concord took place in those neighboring Massachusetts towns on April 19, 1775. The enmity between the British government and the American colonials that preceded the Revolutionary War had led, by early 1775, to militia groups, hostile to the British, being formed in the Boston area. These groups, under the control of Massachusetts leader John Hancock's Committee of Safety, were often dubbed minutemen for their readiness to assemble to fight at a moment's notice. Caches of munitions were stored at various towns for their use, including at Concord.[1]

A printed engraving in black and white showing several people in 18th-century garb; one is firing a rifle. Another lies on the ground, dead or wounded; a woman tends to him.
BEP engraved vignette Battle of Lexington which appeared on the $20 National Bank Note

The Secretary of State for the Colonies, Lord Dartmouth, instructed the British commander in Boston, General Thomas Gage, to stamp out this resistance. On April 18, 1775, Gage secretly ordered Lieutenant Colonel Francis Smith to go with 700 men to Concord and destroy the munitions there.[1][2] It is uncertain how the Americans came to hear of the plan: Gage's wife Margaret was born in New Jersey and may have been a spy.[3] Another local leader, Joseph Warren, informed Paul Revere and William Dawes, and the two men went by separate roads to Lexington to alert leaders and militia officers there that the British were coming. Both got through to Lexington, where they met with Hancock and Samuel Adams. The supplies in Concord were moved.[1][2]

British troops began their march at 2 am on April 19, and Smith sent troops ahead under Major John Pitcairn. When Pitcairn and his men found a company of armed colonials at Lexington's town common, he ordered them to disperse. In the confusion, a shot was fired from an unknown source, which brought several volleys from the British troops. Eight of the local men were killed and one British soldier was wounded. The British burned or otherwise destroyed what supplies they could find in Concord, and a second confrontation took place at the North Bridge, in which the legendary "shot heard round the world" was fired.[1][2] The bridge was held by the British, and by then about 400 minutemen had assembled. Seeing the smoke from Concord, the colonials believed the town was being burned, and attempted to cross the bridge to succor it. The British fired on them but the colonials returned fire and defeated them. The British, who had gotten reinforcements once they realized the countryside was roused against them, began their march to Boston harassed by at least 2,000 militiamen who inflicted a steady toll by gunfire until the British gained the protection of the cannon near Boston. The encounters at Lexington and Concord were the first battles of what became the Revolutionary War.[4]