1934 Texas Centennial Half Dollar
Texas joined the United States of America on December 29th 1845 after a tumultuous few decades. The 1934 Texas Centennial Half dollar was released to commemorate the centennial of Texas independence from Mexico. This post delves into the series of events that made the western frontier a part of the United States of America.
Western states including Texas, California, Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona were initially part of the Spanish empire. The Spanish were powerful starting from when Columbus landed in the Americas in the 15th century. They took the gold from the Incas and Aztecs and mined silver from the captured lands as well. These precious metals made Spain a rich and formidable force in Europe in ensuing centuries. But in the early 18th century, the rot began to set in and Spain suffered due to the many wars that it fought with its neighbors and its outdated colonial policies. Though there was economic revival under the Bourbon kings, the empire was surely on a downward spiral. Spain started the process of letting its overseas colonies go.
Mexico got independence from Spain in 1821.Alto California, Texas and New Mexico were part of Mexican territory then. These Northern parts were sparsely populated and Mexico threw its doors open to settlers. The Mexicans thought these settlers would come and develop the area through ranching and farming. Their only caveat was to be loyal to Mexico and convert to Catholicism. Initial settlers like Stephen F.Austin trickled in and settled near the Brazos river. The trickle became a deluge and soon settlers outnumbered the Mexicans. These settlers and many squatters started a rebellion and declared Texas independent in 1836.
President General Antonio Lopez De Santa Anna of the Mexican forces came with his big army to quell the rebellion. They laid siege to the Alamo Mission near San Antonio for 13 days. On the last day the Mexicans killed all men inside the Alamo with no quarter to even those who surrendered. Instead of quelling the rebellion, it was a shot in the arm for Texas independence. The Texan army numbers swelled to wreak vengeance on the Mexican army and Santa Anna's cruelty.
In the Battle of San Jacinto, Sam Houston the Texan General routed the Mexican army so thoroughly that in a matter of 18 minutes the fighting was over. 'Remember the Alamo' was the constant refrain from the Texans fighting the Mexicans. General Santa Anna was forced to sign a paper freeing Texas. Texas attained freedom with Sam Houston as its President. But Texans were also in favor of joining United States of America. U.S. Congress didn't want yet another slave state to join the union and this delayed Texas acceptance into the Union.
James Polk became the U.S. President in 1845. He was pro-expansionist and pro-slavery. Polk pursued the annexation and Texas became part of the union by December 25th 1845.
1934 Texas Centennial Half Dollar
On June 15, 1933, Congress authorized the coinage of a Half dollar to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of Texas independence from Mexico in 1936. The coin was designed by Pompeo Coppini, an Italian immigrant and a Texan.
The obverse showed an Eagle sitting on a branch in front of the Lone Star, the symbol of Texas. It read IN GOD WE TRUST at the top right of the star, and to the left it read E PLURIBUS UNUM.
The reverse depicted the Alamo with goddess Victory spreading her wings over it; with Sam Houston on her left and Stephen F. Austin on her right. The Six Flags of Texas were depicted above her head. Under her it read REMEMBER THE ALAMO. Over Sam Houston, Victory, and Stephen F. Austin it read THE TEXAS INDEPENDENCE CENTENNIAL.