Hayward’s United States Gazetteer (1853) page 710

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%* We have received from a friend an elaborate and valuable paper, furnishing a succinct history
of the currency of this country from its first settlement. The article is too long for insertion entire,
in a work of this kind. We avail ourselves, however, of some of its most important statistical details,
in presenting to our readers such a view of the banking institutions, coin, and currency of the country
as may suffice to furnish complete and accurate data for economical and financial investigations.

j    Up to the year 1690, the currency of gold and silver was sufficient for the ordinary trade of the

I    colonies.    In consequence of the war against the French in Canada under Sir William Phipps, the

j *    want of money became oppressive, not only for the ordinary expenses of government, but for the

•    pay of troops, and the incidental expenses to sustain an army. A proposition was brought before

the colonial court to issue bills of public credit, as the only resort, to furnish means to carry on the
war. After some effort, the court granted an issue of
£7000 in bills of credit, printed on square
!    slips of paper, varying in value from five shillings to five pounds.

The colonial court voted that the sum expressed in said bills should be equal in value with coin.
<•    The court provided no sinking fund for their redemption, only making them receivable for taxes or

H    public dues, and promising, when demanded, to pay the full sum in money or public stock. The form

of the first paper bill issued in America is as follows: —

“ This Indented bill of Twenty Shillings, due from Massachusetts colony to the possessor, shall be
in value, equal to money, and shall be accordingly accepted, by the Treasurer and receiver subordir
nate to him, in all public payments, and for any stock at any time in the Treasury.

“ Boston in New England, December 6th, 1690.

“ By order of the General Court.''

Thus Massachusetts established the first paper currency in America. The issue of a paper cur-
rency at once relieved the pressure for money, and raised the value of merchandise. The sudden
rise in bread stuff's was a subject of alarm to a portion of the people, in consequence of which the
General Court, at its next session, passed an act that the price of corn should be reduced.

The colonial court, for a period of fifty years, were continually legislating upon the currency, ex-
tending the issue of their bills of credit, and contriving all possible expedients to keep up the value,
but without any beneficial result. The amount issued and in circulation in 1749, the issue of fifty-
nine years,'' was £2,200,000, which had depreciated 89 per cent, from the specie value, being worth
only 11 cents on the dollar.

Hutchinson, who then was speaker of the house, and one of the most influential men in the colo-
ny, and William Bollan, Esq., saw the necessity of at once abandoning the issue of bills, and redeem-
ing the issue if possible. With the sanction of the colonial court, he was empowered to redeem the
depreciated currency.
£180,000 was obtained from the home government in specie, and the issues
were redeemed at 11 cents on the dollar.

South Carolina issued bills of credit in 1702, and Pennsylvania in 1723; some other colonies at
later periods issued bills of credit. The bills of these colonies shared the same fate as in Massachu-


A Gdzetteer of the United Stdtes of Americd by John Hayward.

Hartford, CT: Case, Tiffany and Company. 1853. Public domain

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