Little Bits of History

April 22

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 22, 2017

1864: The Coinage Act of 1864 is passed. Due to this law, the United States Mint changed the composition of the one-cent coin and authorized the minting of a two-cent coin. The Director of the United States Mint designed the new coins and sent them to the Secretary of the Treasury for approval. Also included in the design for the two-cent piece was the phrase “In God We Trust” on the coin. It was the first time the phrase appeared. By March of 1865, the phrase was to be placed on all gold and silver coins that held an inscription. Finally, in 1956 In God We Trust replaced E Pluribus Unum as the national motto and it was printed on all money made by the US Mint.

The Coinage Act of 1792 was the first in the series of these acts and passed the US Congress on April 2, 1792. It created the US dollar as the country’s standard unit of money, established the United States Mint, and regulated coinage throughout the new country. The silver dollar was the basic unit rather than a paper version. A decimal system was enacted for partitioning the dollar into smaller units. It also pegged the value of the American dollar to the Spanish milled dollar which caused some issues with those holding silver at the time. By 1794 and 1795 the US dollar used a 0.900 fine standard while the Spanish dollar used 0.8924+ fine standard which meant that people bringing silver to the mint ended up with less money than they thought they had.

The last major Coinage Act of the US was passed in 1965. This eliminated silver from the dime and quarter or ten- and twenty-five-cent pieces respectively. It reduced the silver in the half dollar (and silver was eliminated entirely in 1970). There had been coin shortages due to silver’s increased demand in other industries as well as for coinage. This increased the price of silver dramatically and made the silver used in the coinage worth more than the coins themselves. It worked and the elimination of silver in the coins permitted enough of them to be minted to eliminate the shortage. The law also banned the minting of silver dollars but these were once again on the market in 1970.

E pluribus unam is Latin for “Out of many, one” and the 13-letter phrase was the traditional motto of the United States and appears on the Great Seal of the United States. It was adopted by the US Congress in 1782 and remained the motto for the country until 1956 when Congress passed H.J. Resolution 396 making In God We Trust the new motto. E pluribus unam was an understanding that from many states or colonies came one new nation. It can also mean a diverse pool of peoples from a wide variety of places came together to create a new country and is a nod to the melting pot theory of the United States. In God We Trust as a motto has been challenged in many lawsuits, unsuccessfully, as it does not endorse any specific religion.

The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag. – Smedley Butler

As you know, low demand and high supply means a drop in value of anything, including the dollar. – Robert Kiyosaki

Money won’t create success, the freedom to make it will. – Nelson Mandela

Money can buy you a fine dog, but only love can make him wag his tail. – Kinky Friedman


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