The colonists in British North American quite naturally expected the British Crown to continue to subsidize them. England's rulers, however, had a different idea: they planned on the colonists making them rich. They figured that if all the colonists had was British money, colonial exports and imports would almost exclusively come from and go to Great Britain.
These Georgia bills came in two different styles: smaller denominations had a geometric design, while the larger bills had a “revolutionary design,” with a colored circular seal. This seal had two purposes: the colors identified the value of the bills, and the seals made counterfeiting of the bills virtually impossible. The amounts of these bills ranged from three pence all the way up to 10 pounds sterling.
The counterfeiting of currency had become a very serious problem, so much so that in 1769, Georgia issued "Bills of Credit" which had "To Counterfeit is Death Without Benefit of Clergy" printed right on them. When Georgia printed more of these bills in the late 1760s, it specifically designated the funds "for the support of the Continental Troops."
These certificates were hand-dated, numbered and signed by five prominent citizens. Georgia printed 12,572 Pounds Sterling worth of banknotes in 1776. In 1778, $150,000 of Georgia $5 dollar bills were printed in order to pay Georgia's Revolutionary War soldiers. They were to be guaranteed with assets from "seized Tory estates."
By then of the Revolutionary War, the United States Congress had ordered printed two hundred and forty million dollars worth of what became known as "Continentals" with values as high as forty dollars. The new American Government was so fiercely opposed to levying any taxes on the American
people that these 'Continentals' printed without any thought about how they would later redeem them.
At the same time, Georgia and the other states had printed another $210 million of their new state currencies. With very little gold or silver deposits on hand, these paper notes, or "specie," became almost worthless: a 10-dollar bill might be redeemed for no more than two or three dollars in gold bullion.
America was bound and determined to separate itself from its former colonial masters. The first step to become financially independent was to create an official American currency. In 1787, James Jarvis minted three hundred tons of copper coins in New Haven, Connecticut at the request of the United States Congress which bore the warning "Mind Your Business" on one side, and the statement "We Are One" on the other.
Known as the "Fugio," (or 'I Fly') coins, these coins were the American Government's first official metal currency. In 1792 the first silver American five-cent piece, known as the "Half-Dime," was struck at the new U.S. Mint in Philadelphia by silversmith John Harper. In 1798, the first American ten-cent piece, or "Dime," was struck.
In 1794, the City of Savannah printed its own currency, derogatorily referred to as "Animal Money," because it was designed for the many residents who couldn't read. The value of the money was determined by the picture: a ship was worth ten cents; a horse, five cents; a cow, four cents; and a dog, two cents.
Future Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton established the U.S. Dollar as the basic unit of American currency in 1792. There were two new dollars: the American Gold Dollar was minted from 24.74 grains of gold, while the American Silver Dollar was minted from 371.25 grains of silver. Both dollars had an equal value.
Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look at Bulloch County's historical past. Email Roger at rwasrer53 @gmail.com.