January 24, 1923: The 67th Congress of the United States authorizes the Mint to produce commemorative coins in honor of the centennial of the Monroe Doctrine and its celebration at an exposition held in Los Angeles in mid-1923.
The Monroe Doctrine, a policy communicated in the president’s annual message to Congress on December 2, 1823, warned European nations against new colonial ventures in the Americas and against interference with Western Hemisphere governments. Despite the policy having little practical use at the time due to lack of enforcement, the Monroe Doctrine became an important component of the country’s foreign policy in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The 50-cent coin, dated 1923, bears the portraits of 5th U.S. President James Monroe and 6th President John Qunicy Adams on the obverse and stylized figures representing North and South America touch at the Panama Canal on the reverse. It was produced at the San Francisco Mint.
The commems did not sell well, and the majority of the 270,000-piece mintage was eventually released into circulation. Examples that exist today often show wear since many of the coins were spent during the Great Depression.