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Digital Subscriptions > COINage > August 2019 > EARLIEST U.S. CIRCULATING CURRENCY


War of 1812 Prompts Paper Money Issuance
Editor’s Note: Th is is an exclusive excerpt from Donald H. Kagin’s new book, “Th e Treasury Notes of the War of 1812.”

It is now clear that the first circulating currency issued by the United States was not the Demand Notes of 1861 as was commonly believed for decades, but the Treasury Notes of the War of 1812 printed in 1815 forty-six years earlier.

Th e War of 1812 triggered our nation’s first severe financial crisis since the Revolution. Yet for the most part, it is a forgotten conflict. Oft en called our nation’s, “Second War of Independence,” the conflict erupted aft er an extended disagreement with Great Britain over trade tariff s and their continued capturing and impressing of U.S. citizens for British maritime service, including prosecuting their war against France. Th e war lasted more than two years, and ended in something of a stalemate but did confirm American Independence.

Following the disastrous attempts at issuing paper currency during the Revolutionary War, which inevitably led to massive inflation and currency devaluation, Congress was very reluctant to again authorize the printing of paper money. But as the conflict dragged on it became increasingly apparent that to provide the nation with necessary funds and an adequate medium of exchange to conduct the war, that emitting banknotes was inevitable. Th e final issue of “small” Treasury Notes under $100 denominations, served as circulating national currency, albeit without the obligation of acceptance that comes with legal-tender status.

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CoinAge August 2019, Ultimate Secrets of Coin Auction, Gold Scam Protection, First Circulating Currency of the U.S, And More....