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Bulloch History with Roger Allen: Deciding the fair value of discredited continental dollars
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Roger Allen - photo by Special

    Note: The following is part of a series of columns looking at how hard currency was introduced in Georgia and Bulloch County.

    Georgia, which had been and was still regarded as a former royal colony, was not required to contribute at first from the retirement of the "Continentals."
    With the Funding Act of Aug. 4, 1790, the federal government formally defaulted on all of the continental-state dollars still being held for eventual reimbursement.
    In what is referred to as the United States Congress' first "Debate over Discrimination," it was decided that holders of "callable perpetuities" (interest-bearing debt obligations) would get the full face value, plus interest.
    However, the original holders of "non-interest bearing obligations" (continental dollars) would get nothing, and the current holders would get less than 1 percent of face value in the form of an interest-bearing bond.
    On Nov. 12, 1814, Representative Hall of Georgia introduced five resolutions in Congress proposing that the treasury notes be made "legal tender in all debts due ... between citizens of the United States." Congress refused to even consider this.
    The confusion over all the different local currencies heavily affected foreign travelers in the United States. The National Monetary Commission's paper entitled "The Origin of the National Banking System" brings to light one traveler's experiences.
    The paper's author, Andrew McFarland Davis, wrote that the complaints of a Frenchman in 1815 had resulted in a writer simply known as "W" to pen an article for "The Analectic Magazine." This article is the first known proposal for a national currency.
    Fifty years later, this article was reprinted in "The Historical Magazine" of August 1865. According to Davis, "W" had proposed that America create "a uniform currency, which might be based upon United States stocks."

America and her coins
    James Jarvis, owner of the Connecticut "Company for Coining Coppers" struck the first official coins of the United States in 1767. His "Fugio Pence" bore the warnings "Mind Your Business" and "We Are One."
    On Jan. 15, 1782, the Superintendent of Finance for the United States, Robert Morris, proposed a totally new currency: three silver coins (the mark, quint and cent) and two copper coins (the eight and five).
    Morris wrote that "The Money Unit of a New Coin ... will be the fourteen hundred and fortieth Part of a Dollar ... of the Units twenty four will be a Penny of Georgia ... and forty-eight-eight will be thirteen Pence of South Carolina."

    Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. Email Roger at

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