So-Called Dollars


Purpose: To celebrate 100th anniversary of Battle of Lexington, April 19, 1775, which marked beginning of Revolutionary War; to dedicate permanent memorial to that event.

Organization: Centennial Committee organized early 1873 with objective of making celebration "national in character"; functioned also as auxiliary of Lexington Monument Association, chartered 1850. Latter had erected Memorial Hall, placed there marble statues of Minute Man and Union Soldier, with niches left vacant for statues of Samuel Adams and John Hancock, both present at battle. Committee commissioned American sculptors Martin Milmore and Thomas R. Gould, residing in Italy, to carve latter statues in Carrara marble, to be unveiled at centennial. Town of Concord invited to join in celebration but declined as it planned centennial of its own. Event financed largely by private contributions.

Sites, Dates, Attendance: Center of town, called "common," April 18-19, 1875; attendance about 100,000, "overwhelmed" capacities of small farming village of fewer than 2,300.

Comment: Memorial service held 7 P.M., April 18, in town hall. Next morning, following 100-gun salute, ceremonies began in 7,000-capacity tent; included oratory, recitation by John Greenleaf Whittier of his poem, written for occasion, "Lexington--1775" and later parade. In reviewing stand were President Grant, Vice President Wilson, members of Cabinet, governors of other states and many public officials. Historic sites were marked; most homes decorated. Centennial Banquet held in second tent, seating 3,500. Bitter cold, insufficient food and inadequate transportation facilities caused much discomfort. Town forced to call for Boston police to control crowd; 40 men assigned. Lexington and Concord celebrations were first in series; climax was 1876 U.S. Centennial Exposition, Philadelphia.

Medals: Official Medals below authorized by 43rd Congress; dies by Henry Mitchell, Boston; from design by Rev. Edward Griffin Porter, Lexington; struck at Philadelphia Mint. Only 4 Gold medals struck, sold for $30; Silver sold for $3; Bronze for $1; White Metal for $1.50 unpierced, 50 cents pierced. Entire issue quite limited.

Photos courtesy of John Dean

Obv. Seal of town of Lexington, Minute Man of 1775 the prominent feature; above, 1775; below, April 19th; to l., 1642, Camb. Farms; to r., 1713 / Lexington--all within circle; outside around, above, "What a glorious morning for America" [utterance of Samuel Adams]; below around, Lexington.
Rev. In 7 lines, first and last curved, others straight, Centennial / celebration / of the / Battle / of / Lexington / April 19, 1875.

HK-16 Silver. Proof. 38mm. Julian CM-24. 100 struck.
HK-17 Bronze. Proof. Julian CM-24. 200 struck.
HK-18 White Metal. Proof. Struck outside of US Mint.
HK-1004 Gold. Julian CM-24. Proof. 4 struck.