In 1882, the former Vice President of the Confederate States of America was elected as governor of the readmitted state of Georgia. Arrested and imprisoned at the end of the Civil War, the election of Alexander H. Stephens showed the extent to which the relationship between the North and South had progressed in the previous seventeen years. This 1882 half dollar recalls the reclaiming of political prominence by the second most powerful man in the Confederate government in the post-Confederate world.
Congress intended the Mint Act of February 12, 1873 to serve as a general oevrhaul of the nation's coinage system. Among its results were the demise of the Three-Cent Silver and the Half Dime and the introduction of the Trade Dollar in place of the standard Silver Dollar. Effects in the Half Dollar series were less profound and confined to a slight weight increase from 12.44 grams to 12.50 grams. This was apparently done to make United States coinage conform more closely to the metric system.
Once again, Mint officials felt that a special feature was needed to distinguish the new coinage from its lighter-weight predecessor. Harkening back to the early 1850s, arrows were placed at the date beginning in February of 1873 and continuing through 1874. Coinage of business strike Half Dollars of the Arrows, Motto type was accomplished primarily at the Philadelphia Mint, although the Carson City and San Francisco facilities also contributed limited mintages.