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In 1861, as a means of financing the American Civil War, the federal government began issuing paper money for the first time since the Continental Congress printed currency to help pay for the Revolutionary War (the earlier form of paper dollars, dubbed continentals, were produced in such high volume that they soon lost much of their value). In the decades leading up to the Civil War, private, state-chartered banks printed paper money, resulting in a wide range of denominations and designs. The new bills circulated by the U.S. government starting in the 1860s came to be known as greenbacks because their back sides were printed in green ink. This ink was an anti-counterfeiting measure used to prevent photographic knockoffs, since the cameras of the time could only take pictures in black and white.
In 1929, the government shrunk the size of all paper money (in order to cut down on manufacturing costs) and instituted standardized designs for each denomination, which made it easier for people to tell real bills from fakes. The small-sized bills continued to be printed with green ink because, according to the U.S. Bureau of Printing and Engraving, the ink was plentiful and durable and the color green was associated with stability.
Today, there is some $1.2 trillion in coins and paper money in circulation in America. It costs about 5 cents to produce every $1 bill and around 13 cents to make a $100 bill, the highest denomination currently in circulation. The estimated life span of a $1 bill is close to six years, while a $100 bill typically lasts 15 years. The $50 bill has the shortest average life span: 3.7 years.
Definition of Greenbacks
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Greenbacks were the bills printed as paper currency by the United States government during the Civil War. They were given that name, of course, because the bills were printed with green ink.
The printing of money by the government was seen as a wartime necessity prompted by the great costs of the conflict and it was a controversial choice.
The objection to paper money was that it wasn't backed by precious metals, but rather by confidence in the issuing institution i.e. the federal government. (One version of the origin of the name "greenbacks" is that people said the money was only backed by the green ink on the papers' backs.)
The first greenbacks were printed in 1862, after the passage of the Legal Tender Act, which President Abraham Lincoln signed into law on February 26, 1862. The law authorized the printing of $150 million in paper currency.
A second Legal Tender Act, passed in 1863, authorized the issuing of another $300 million in greenbacks.
Why is American currency green? - HISTORY
THE HISTORY OF MONEY PART 2
The 19th century became known as the age of the Rothschild's when it was estimated they controlled half of the world's wealth. While their wealth continues to increase today, they have managed to blend into the background, giving an impression that their power has waned. They only apply the Rothschild name to a small fraction of the companies they actually control. Some authors claim that the Rothschild's had not only taken over the Bank of England but they had also in 1816 backed a new privately owned Central Bank in America called The Second Bank of The United States, causing huge problems to the American president.
ANDREW JACKSON (1828 - 1836)
When the American congress voted to renew the charter of The Second Bank of The United States, Jackson responded by using his veto to prevent the renewal bill from passing. His response gives us an interesting insight. "It is not our own citizens only who are to receive the bounty of our government. More than eight millions of the stock of this bank are held by foreigners. is there no danger to our liberty and independence in a bank that in its nature has so little to bind it to our country.
Controlling our currency, receiving our public moneys, and holding thousands of our citizens in dependence. would be more formidable and dangerous than a military power of the enemy. If government would confine itself to equal protection, and, as Heaven does its rains, shower its favour alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing. In the act before me there seems to be a wide and unnecessary departure from these just principles."
Andrew Jackson 1 In 1832 Jackson ordered the withdrawal of government deposits from the Second bank and instead had them put into safe banks. The Second Banks head, Nicholas Biddle was quite candid about the power and intention of the bank when he openly threatened to cause a depression if the bank was not re-chartered, we quote. "Nothing but widespread suffering will produce any effect on Congress. Our only safety is in pursuing a steady course of firm restriction - and I have no doubt that such a course will ultimately lead to restoration of the currency and the re-charter of the bank."
Nicholas Biddle 1836 By calling in existing loans and refusing to issue new loans he did cause a massive depression, but in 1836 when the charter ran out, the Second Bank ceased to function. It was then he made these two famous statements: "The Bank is trying to kill me - but I will kill it!" and later "If the American people only understood the rank injustice of our money and banking system - there would be a revolution before morning. "
Andrew Jackson When asked what he felt was the greatest achievement of his career Andrew Jackson replied without hesitation "I killed the bank!" However we will see this was not the end of private financial influence passing itself off as official when we look at.
1. Andrew Jackson, Veto of the Bank Bill, to the Senate, (1832)
ABRAHAM LINCOLN AND THE CIVIL WAR (1861 - 1865)
With the Central Bank killed off, fractional reserve banking moved like a virus through numerous state chartered banks instead causing the instability this form of economics thrives on. When people lose their homes someone else wins them for a fraction of their worth. Depression is good news to the lender but war causes even more debt and dependency than anything else, so if the money changers couldn't have their Central Bank with a license to print money, a war it would have to be. We can see from this quote of the then chancellor of Germany that slavery was not the only cause for the American Civil War. "The division of the United States into federations of equal force was decided long before the Civil War by the high financial powers of Europe. These bankers were afraid that the US, if they remained as one block, and as one nation, would attain economic and financial independence, which would upset their financial domination over the world."
Otto von Bismark chancellor of Germany 1876 On the 12th of April 1861 this economic war began. Predictably Lincoln, needing money to finance his war effort, went with his secretary of the treasury to New York to apply for the necessary loans. The money changers wishing the Union to fail offered loans at 24% to 36%. Lincoln declined the offer. An old friend of Lincoln's, Colonel Dick Taylor of Chicago was put in charge of solving the problem of how to finance the war. His solution is recorded as this. "Just get Congress to pass a bill authorising the printing of full legal tender treasury notes. and pay your soldiers with them and go ahead and win your war with them also."
Colonel Dick Taylor When Lincoln asked if the people of America would accept the notes Taylor said. "The people or anyone else will not have any choice in the matter, if you make them full legal tender. They will have the full sanction of the government and be just as good as any money as Congress is given that express right by the Constitution."
Colonel Dick Taylor 1 Lincoln agreed to try this solution and printed 450 million dollars worth of the new bills using green ink on the back to distinguish them from other notes. "The government should create, issue and circulate all the currency and credit needed to satisfy the spending power of the government and the buying power of consumers. The privilege of creating and issuing money is not only the supreme prerogative of Government, but it is the Government's greatest creative opportunity. By the adoption of these principles, the long-felt want for a uniform medium will be satisfied. The taxpayers will be saved immense sums of interest, discounts and exchanges. The financing of all public enterprises, the maintenance of stable government and ordered progress, and the conduct of the Treasury will become matters of practical administration. The people can and will be furnished with a currency as safe as their own government. Money will cease to be the master and become the servant of humanity. Democracy will rise superior to the money power."
Abraham Lincoln 2 From this we see that the solution worked so well Lincoln was seriously considering adopting this emergency measure as a permanent policy. This would have been great for everyone except the money changers who quickly realised how dangerous this policy would be for them. They wasted no time in expressing their view in the London Times. Oddly enough, while the article seems to have been designed to discourage this creative financial policy, in its put down we're clearly able to see the policies goodness. "If this mischievous financial policy, which has its origin in North America, shall become endurated down to a fixture, then that Government will furnish its own money without cost. It will pay off debts and be without debt. It will have all the money necessary to carry on its commerce. It will become prosperous without precedent in the history of the world. The brains, and wealth of all countries will go to North America. That country must be destroyed or it will destroy every monarchy on the globe."
Hazard Circular - London Times 1865 From this extract its plan to see that it is the advantage provided by the adopting of this policy which poses a threat to those not using it. 1863, nearly there, Lincoln needed just a bit more money to win the war, and seeing him in this vulnerable state, and knowing that the president could not get the congressional authority to issue more greenbacks, the money changers proposed the passing of the National Bank Act. The act went through. From this point on the entire US money supply would be created out of debt by bankers buying US government bonds and issuing them from reserves for bank notes. The greenbacks continued to be in circulation until 1994, their numbers were not increased but in fact decreased. "In numerous years following the war, the Federal Government ran a heavy surplus. It could not (however) pay off its debt, retire its securities, because to do so meant there would be no bonds to back the national bank notes. To pay off the debt was to destroy the money supply."
John Kenneth Galbrath The American economy has been based on government debt since 1864 and it is locked into this system. Talk of paying off the debt without first reforming the banking system is just talk and a complete impossibility. That same year Lincoln had a pleasant surprise. Turns out the Tsar of Russia, Alexander II, was well aware of the money changers scam. The Tsar was refusing to allow them to set up a central bank in Russia. If Lincoln could limit the power of the money changers and win the war, the bankers would not be able to split America and hand it back to Britain and France as planned. The Tsar knew that this handing back would come at a cost which would eventually need to be paid back by attacking Russia, it being clearly in the money changers sights. The Tsar declared that if France or Britain gave help to the South, Russia would consider this an act of war. Britain and France would instead wait in vain to have the wealth of the colonies returned to them, and while they waited Lincoln won the civil war. With an election coming up the next year, Lincoln himself would wait for renewed public support before reversing the National Bank Act he had been pressured into approving during the war. Lincoln's opposition to the central banks financial control and a proposed return to the gold standard is well documented. He would certainly have killed off the national banks monopoly had he not been killed himself only 41 days after being re-elected. The money changers were pressing for a gold standard because gold was scarce and easier to have a monopoly over. Much of this was already waiting in their hands and each gold merchant was well aware that what they really had could be easily made to seem like much much more. Silver would only widen the field and lower the share so they pressed for.
1. Lincoln By Emil Ludwig 1930, containing a letter from Lincoln, also reprinted in Glory to God and the Sucker Democracy A Manuscript Collection of the Letters of Charles H. Lanphier compiled by Charles C. Patton.
2. Abraham Lincoln. Senate document 23, Page 91. 1865.
THE RETURN OF THE GOLD STANDARD (1866 - 1881)
"Right after the Civil War there was considerable talk about reviving Lincoln's brief experiment with the Constitutional monetary system. Had not the European money-trust intervened, it would have no doubt become an established institution."
W.Cleon Skousen. Even after his death, the idea that America might print its own debt free money set off warning bells throughout the entire European banking community. On April 12th in 1866, the American congress passed the Contraction Act, allowing the treasury to call in and retire some of Lincoln's greenbacks, With only the banks standing to gain from this, it's not hard to work out the source of this action. To give the American public the false impression that they would be better off under the gold standard, the money changers used the control they had to cause economic instability and panic the people. This was fairly easy to do by calling in existing loans and refusing to issue new ones, a tried and proven method of causing depression. They would then spread the word through the media they largely controlled that the lack of a single gold standard was the cause of the hardship which ensued, while all this time using the Contraction Act to lower the amount of money in circulation.
It went from $1.8 billion in circulation in 1866 allowing $50.46 per person, to $1.3 billion in 1867 allowing $44.00 per person, to .6 billion in 1876 making only $14.60 per person and down to .4 billion only ten years later leaving only $6.67 per person and a continually growing population.
Most people believe the economists when they tell us that recessions and depressions are part of the natural flow, but in truth the money supply is controlled by a small minority who have always done so and will continue to do so if we let them. By 1872 the American public was beginning to feel the squeeze, so the Bank of England, scheming in the back rooms, sent Ernest Seyd, with lots of money to bribe congress into demonetising silver. Ernest drafted the legislation himself, which came into law with the passing of the Coinage Act, effectively stopping the minting of silver that year. Here's what he said about his trip, obviously pleased with himself. "I went to America in the winter of 1872-73, authorised to secure, if I could, the passage of a bill demonetising silver. It was in the interest of those I represented - the governors of the Bank of England - to have it done. By 1873, gold coins were the only form of coin money."
Ernest Seyd Or as explained by Senator Daniel of Virginia "In 1872 silver being demonetized in Germany, England, and Holland, a capital of 100,000 pounds ($500,000.00) was raised, Ernest Seyd was sent to this country with this fund as agent for foreign bond holders to effect the same object (demonetization of silver)". 1
Within three years, with 30% of the work force unemployed, the American people began to harken back to the days of silver backed money and the greenbacks. The US Silver Commission was set up to study the problem and responded with telling history: "The disaster of the Dark Ages was caused by decreasing money and falling prices. Without money, civilisation could not have had a beginning, and with a diminishing supply, it must languish and unless relieved, finally perish. At the Christian era the metallic money of the Roman Empire amounted to $1,800,million. By the end of the fifteenth century it had shrunk to less than $200,million. History records no other such disastrous transition as that from the Roman Empire to the Dark Ages. "
United States Silver Commission While they obviously could see the problems being caused by the restricted money supply, this declaration did little to help the problem, and in 1877 riots broke out all over the country. The bank's response was to do nothing except to campaign against the idea that greenbacks should be reissued. The American Bankers Association secretary James Buel expressed the bankers attitude well in a letter to fellow members of the association.
He wrote: "It is advisable to do all in your power to sustain such prominent daily and weekly newspapers, especially the Agricultural and Religious Press, as will oppose the greenback issue of paper money and that you will also withhold patronage from all applicants who are not willing to oppose the government issue of money. To repeal the Act creating bank notes, or to restore to circulation the government issue of money will be to provide the people with money and will therefore seriously affect our individual profits as bankers and lenders. See your congressman at once and engage him to support our interest that we may control legislation."
James Buel American Bankers Association 2 What this statement exposes is the difference in mentality between your average person and a banker. With a banker 'less really is more' and every need an opportunity to exploit. James Garfield became President in 1881 with a firm grasp of where the problem lay. "Whosoever controls the volume of money in any country is absolute master of all industry and commerce. And when you realise that the entire system is very easily controlled, one way or another, by a few powerful men at the top, you will not have to be told how periods of inflation and depression originate."
James Garfield 1881 Within weeks of releasing this statement President Garfield was assassinated. The cry from the streets was to.
1. Senator Daniel of Virginia, May 22, 1890, from a speech in Congress, to be found in the Congressional Record, page 5128, quoting from the Bankers Magazine of August, 1873
2. from a circular issued by authority of the Associated Bankers of New York, Philadelphia, and Boston signed by one James Buel, secretary, sent out from 247 Broadway, New York in 1877, to the bankers in all of the States
Fleecing of the flock is the term the money changers use for the process of booms and depressions which make it possible for them to repossess property at a fraction of its worth. In 1891 a major fleece was being planned. "On Sept 1st, 1894, we will not renew our loans under any consideration. On Sept 1st we will demand our money. We will foreclose and become mortgagees in possession. We can take two-thirds of the farms west of the Mississippi, and thousands of them east of the Mississippi as well, at our own price. Then the farmers will become tenants as in England. "
1891 American Bankers Association as printed in the Congressional Record of April 29, 1913 The continued gold standard made this possible. William Jennings Bryan was the Democratic candidate for president in 1896, campaigning to bring silver back as a money standard. (free Silver) "We will answer their demand for a gold standard by saying to them: You shall not press down upon the brow of labour this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold."
William Jennings Bryan Of course the money changers supported his opposition on the Republican side so long as he wanted the gold standard maintained. The factory bosses were somehow convinced to tell their work force that business would close down if Bryan was elected, and everyone would lose their jobs. The Republicans won by a small margin. Bryan tried again in 1900 and in 1908 but lost both times. He became secretary of state under Wilson in 1912 but became disenchanted and resigned in 1915 under suspicious circumstances connected with the sinking of the Lusitania which drove America into the First World War.
J.P.MORGAN AND THE CRASH OF 1907
If you want to work out the cause of the crash of 1907, checking who benefited is where you might like to look first. With the stock market slump causing most of the over extended banks to falter, in steps J.P. Morgan offering to save the day. People will do strange things when in a panic, and this might explain why Morgan was authorised to print $200 million from nothing, which he then used to prop things up. Some of the troubled banks with less than 1% in reserve had no choice. It was accept this solution or go under. Even if they had worked out that their problems had been caused by the same people now offering the solution, there is not a lot they could have done about it. J.P.Morgan was hailed a hero. "All this trouble could be averted if we appointed a committee of six or seven men like J.P.Morgan to handle the affairs of our country."
Woodrow Wilson But not everyone was fooled. "Those not favourable to the money trust could be squeezed out of business and the people frightened into demanding changes in the banking and currency laws which the Money Trust would frame."
Rep. Charles A. Lindbergh (R-MN) Apart from making a small number rich at the expense of the many, in this case the instability also served the second purpose of encouraging the public to believe that they would be better off living under a Central Bank and a Gold Standard. Desperate people have little time for logic.
In Washington the statue of Lincoln sitting in his chair is facing a building called the Federal Reserve Headquarters. This institution would not be there if Lincoln's monetary policy had been adopted by the USA. It is not Federal and it has doubtful reserves. The name is an open deception designed to give this private bank the appearance that it is operating in the public's interest, when in fact it is run solely to gain private profit for its select stock holders. It came into being as the result of one of the slickest moves in financial history. On 23rd December 1913 the house of representatives had past the Federal Reserve Act, but it was still having difficulty getting it out of the senate. Most members of congress had gone home for the holidays, but unfortunately the senate had not adjourned sene die (without day) so they were technically still in session. There were only three members still present. On a unanimous consent voice vote the 1913 Federal Reserve Act was passed. No objection was made, possibly because there was no one there to object. Charles Lindbergh would have objected. "The financial system has been turned over to. the federal reserve board. That board administers the finance system by authority of. a purely profiteering group. The system is private, conducted for the sole purpose of obtaining the greatest possible profits from the use of other peoples money."
Rep Charles A, Lindbergh (R-MN) Louis T. McFadden would have objected. "We have in this country one of the most corrupt institutions the world has ever known. I refer to the Federal Reserve Board. This evil institution has impoverished. the people of the United States. and has practically bankrupted our Government. It has done this through. the corrupt practice of the moneyed vultures who control it."
Rep. Louis T, McFadden (R-PA) Barry Goldwater would also have objected. "Most Americans have no real understanding of the operation of the international money lenders. The accounts of the Federal Reserve System have never been audited. It operates outside the control of Congress and. manipulates the credit of the United States."
Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) Most Americans would object if they knew. The Federal Reserve is the largest single creditor of the United States Government, and they are also the people who decide how much the average persons car payments are going to be, what their house payments are going to be, and whether they have a job or not. The three people who passed the Federal Reserve Act in 1913, knew exactly what they were doing when they set up this private bank, modelled on the Bank of England and the fact that THE BANK OF ENGLAND had been operating independently unopposed since 1694 must have given them a great deal of confidence.
Why the Dollar Is the Global Currency
The 1944 Bretton Woods agreement kickstarted the dollar into its current position. Before then, most countries were on the gold standard. Their governments promised to redeem their currencies for their value in gold upon demand. The world's developed countries met at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, to peg the exchange rate for all currencies to the U.S. dollar. At that time, the United States held the largest gold reserves. This agreement allowed other countries to back their currencies with dollars rather than gold.
By the early 1970s, countries began demanding gold for the dollars they held. They needed to combat inflation. Rather than allow Fort Knox to be depleted of all its reserves, President Nixon separated the dollar from gold.
By that time, the dollar had already become the world's dominant reserve currency. But, unpegging the dollar from its value in gold created stagflation. That's a combination of inflation and stagnant growth.
The original $1,000 bill featured Alexander Hamilton on the front. When someone presumably realized that it might be confusing to have the same former Secretary of the Treasury on multiple denominations, Hamilton was replaced with that of another president—the 22nd and the 24th, Grover Cleveland. Like its smaller cousin, the $500 bill, the $1,000 bill was discontinued in 1969. And like the $500 bill, the $1,000 bill would seem to have a lot more use now than it did then.
Why? Inflation, of course. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) was at an estimated 36.8 back in 1969. As of December 2019, U.S. CPI sat at over 256, meaning a $1,000 bill today would be the equivalent of a relatively modest $153 bill during the Summer of Love. Does it make any sense that we've lost larger denominations as the value of a dollar has gotten progressively smaller? The Treasury argues that keeping the denominations inconveniently small minimizes the possibility of money laundering.
That being said, hold onto a $1,000 bill that finds its way into your palm even more tightly than you would a $500 bill. There are only 165,372 of these bills bearing Cleveland's visage still in existence.
Why is American currency green? - HISTORY
Early Printing of U.S. Paper Currency
In Article I of the U.S. Constitution, ratified on June 21, 1788, Congress was granted the power to “coin money” and “regulate” its value, but not to issue paper money. The result of the near complete devaluation of the paper money printed to fund the Revolution (bills called “continentals” since they were issued by the Continental Congress, see: A Capital Idea- How a Pile of Unpaid Bills Led to Washington, D.C.), many delegates of the Constitutional Convention simply had lost faith in the efficacy of paper money, and made no provision for it.
Thus, for the first 73 years of the country’s history, the U.S. relied on coins it minted, foreign coins (since the U.S. lacked sufficient precious metals to mint enough of their own), and paper money issued by private, state-chartered banks. Producing bills of various designs and values, by the time the U.S. Congress had gotten around to issuing its own paper money, approximately 8,000 different private entities within the United States had already produced some form of paper currency.
With the resulting confusion over valuation and authenticity, counterfeiting of the private notes was rampant. Thus, when Uncle Sam decided it needed to issue paper currency of its own to fund the Union effort in the Civil War, first in the form of fifty million in Demand Notes in 1861 and later passing the Legal Tender Act of 1862 authorizing issuing $150 million (about $4 billion today) of U.S notes, the possibility of forgery was forefront on everyone’s minds. (Fun fact- Abraham Lincoln officially established the Secret Service on the day he was assassinated, with this new organization tasked with, not protecting him, but stamping out such rampant counterfeiting.)
This all brings us back to green money. While it’s often stated, even by otherwise reputable sources, that it isn’t definitively known why the color green was chosen for use with United States paper money, the truth of the matter is that (after an amazing amount of digging), it turns out the reason for choosing green couldn’t be better documented.
This documentation is primarily courtesy of a case brought before the New York Supreme Court in 1865- Tracy R. Edson vs The American Bank Note Company. In this case, numerous primary documents explain in painstaking detail why the color green was chosen for American currency. With a little further digging, more of the backstory was revealed as well.
Funny enough, it all started with a Canadian- Dr. Thomas Sterry Hunt. In 1857, at the behest of the president of the City Bank of Montreal, William Workman, Dr. Hunt developed and patented (in Canada) a new anti-counterfeiting ink. You see, the City Bank of Montreal, like so many other banks, issued their own notes. As was the case with other institutions of the day, their notes suffered from rampant counterfeiting thanks in part to the advent of certain photographic technologies.
Enter another Canadian- George Matthews. Upon learning of this new anti-counterfeiting ink, Matthews almost immediately purchased the rights to it from Hunt. He then turned around and patented the ink in the U.S. (patent #17688) claiming he’d invented it and explaining the ink was made from:
…calcined green oxide of chromium, (known to chemists as the anhydrous sesquioxide of chromium,) which I mix with burned or boiled linseed-oil, sometimes called printers varnish, in the manner usual in preparing ink for printing bank-notes or other instruments by either of the above processes of printing.
After patenting it in the United States, Matthews turned around and licensed all rights to this patent to one Tracy Edson, who along with his cohorts (Rawdon, Wright, and Hatch) within a year would partner up with several other of the most prominent security printers in the United States to form the American Bank Note Company in 1858.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Upon acquiring exclusive rights to the ink, Edson and co. wasted no time in investigating whether this ink really did make bank notes printed with it in a certain fashion impervious to counterfeiting. They soon announced in the following letter (which also explains why this ink was thought so special over others) that they had a method to finally beat counterfeiters :
To the Banking Institutions of the United States:
In consequence of the great danger to our paper currency from successful counterfeits, made by photography and kindred processes, it has become evident that a NEW SECURITY is needed, which, while it shall perfectly protect our bank notes from photographic imitations, and from alterations in their denominational value, shall, at the same time, preserve that security which is always afforded by artistic and highly finished engraving.
The undersigned beg leave respectfully to announce to the Banking Institutions of the United States, that they have carefully investigated this subject, and that they are now prepared to furnish the most perfect possible protection against all the above descriptions of fraud.
The process consists in the use of TWO PERMANENT INKS, conjointly, in printing bank notes, and other documents representing value. One of these is the ordinary BLACK bank note printing ink, which, having a basis of carbon, is insoluble and indestructible the other is an equally insoluble and indestructible GREEN-COLORED INK, which cannot be removed from the paper, without also removing the black ink, and thus destroying the note.
It is an established principle in photographic chemistry, that red, yellow, and green colors act upon the photographic plates almost precisely like black so that lines or figures of these colors will appear black in photographic copies. The use of colors, has therefore, been resorted to as a protection against photographic counterfeiting. Unfortunately, however, all the colored inks heretofore used upon bank notes, for this purpose, as red, yellow, and blue, can be removed with more or less facility, by chemical means, without disturbing the note itself, when printed in the black carbon ink. These colors being removed, the black can be copied by photography and the colors being afterwards added by lithography, or otherwise, a COUNTERFEIT is obtained, which is the more dangerous from the fancied security afforded by the colors.
The use of fugitive black or blue inks, printed upon a colored ground, has been resorted to as a protection against photography. But these inks are liable to fade on exposure to light or air and as it is possible to efface from notes thus printed the black design, by chemical means, without disturbing the red or yellow ground, and to print another in its place, the use of fugitive inks afford great facilities for alterations while the distinctive characteristics of the fine engraving are lost, and the note is rendered easier of imitation by the ordinary counterfeiter, and its detection more difficult.
The use of the BLACK CARBON INK above referred to, for printing bank notes, conjointly with an equally INSOLUBLE AND INDESTRUCTIBLE COLORED INK, in connection with the highest style of line engraving, would unite, in the greatest degree, the best safeguards against all the various species of fraud to which surety paper is exposed.
A bank note thus printed in TWO PERMANENT INKS, would be protected against the possibility of imitation by photography, and by the lithographic and anastatic processes of copying while its denominational value could not be altered by any chemical means. Such a note could also be made to unite the security afforded by the highest artistic excellence, against counterfeiting by the engraving process and the beauty of design and general appearance of the note would be preserved.
The GREEN COLOURED INK, recently patented, has been submitted to the examination of several of our most distinguished chemists, and other gentlemen, who, from their practical experience, are competent to decide a question of this kind. They have subjected it to the most severe tests known to chemical science and the ink having been pronounced by them to possess the requisite properties, we offer it, with entire confidence, as affording the desired protection when applied in the manner above proposed.
Referring to the accompanying documents, and specimen of printing in the two permanent inks, we are,
Your obedient servants,
Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson.
As mentioned in the letter, also furnished as supporting evidence of their claims were letters from numerous chemists and photographers attesting to the fact that, despite their sincerest efforts, they could find no way of perfectly copying the bank notes that had both the carbon black ink and the new Patent Green Tint ink. For instance, in this letter from Photographer Charles D. Fredricks, dated May 29, 1857, he notes:
Messrs. Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson.
Gentlemen: Agreeably to your request I have made numerous experiments, by various processes upon the green tinted bank-notes submitted by you, for the purpose of determining the ANTI-PHOTOGRAPHIC POWER OF THE GREEN INK in which they were printed.
The result is that, in all cases, the portions printed in GREEN, as well as those printed in black, appear only in BLACK in the photographic copy. And I do not hesitate to say, that it is impossible to make a counterfeit by photography of any bank-note upon which this green tinge is printed by you, in connection with the black ink ordinarily used in printing bank-notes.
Respectfully, your ob’t serv’t,
Needless to say, the new anti-counterfeiting ink was a hit and was adopted by numerous banks for their bank notes of various designs.
In 1860, after these types of bank notes had been in the wild for a couple years, notes using this ink still seemed impervious to counterfeiting by ordinary measures, as noted by Professor Wolcott Gibb of New York on June 24, 1860:
In reply to your letter, I have to say that I have seen no reason whatsoever to change the opinion which I expressed in my report of June 3d, 1857, in relation to the durability of the Patent Green Tint. No chemical agent has been discovered which will destroy its color, when properly prepared, and I consider it as one of the most fixed and permanent tints which chemistry can produce.
So, when the Federal Government was looking to print the currency that would become known as “greenbacks” in 1861, they ordered the American Bank Note Company to print them using carbon black and their Patent Green ink, earning the company a cool $5 ($133 today) per thousand notes they printed.
Of course, as so often happens, it was soon discovered that at least some counterfeiters had little trouble figuring out ways to remove the green ink without harming the paper or black ink, and thus the currency was easily counterfeited as described in the preceding Edson and co. letter. The war against counterfeited currency continued, and still continues to this day, with green remaining a primary color of U.S. paper currency through it all.
While in modern times this is more due to tradition than anything else, there was a prime opportunity to change the principal coloring in 1929 when smaller notes were introduced and things became a bit more standardized with some new designs. (For instance, earlier editions of U.S. currency had an average dimension of 7.375 x 3.125 inches, rather than the current 6.125 x 2.625 inches.) However, according to the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the U.S. chose to stick with the green color because the then incarnation of it was still relatively resistant to chemical and physical changes compared to other readily available inks, they had large quantities of it available, and they felt that “green was psychologically identified with the strong and stable credit of the Government.”
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The Fun History Behind Why Money Is Green
Today is St. Patrick’s Day, which means you’ll be seeing a lot of green — green hats, green pins and possibly even green beer, if you plan on hitting your local Irish pub for happy hour later.
But reminders of the Emerald Isle aren't the only green things we've got on our minds today. As personal finance nerds, we decided to take a look at the backstory of a different kind of green: greenbacks, or the paper bills you've got in your wallet right now.
So why don't we pay for things with, say, purple or red money? Turns out making money green was a late 19th century way to thwart counterfeiters. In the decades leading up to the Civil War, currency was printed by state-backed and private banks in a variety of sizes and denominations.
Then in 1861, the federal government began issuing its own currency to help finance the war. Counterfeiting was rampant at the time clever thieves would often scratch off faded ink from bills and change the dollar amount, or they would photograph them and pass the photos off as the real thing.
To prevent this, one side of these new bills was printed in a green-black ink, which was less likely to fade, says Mark Anderson, numismatic consultant at the Museum of American Finance in New York City (hence the greenbacks nickname). And since green wouldn't show up on the black-and-white-only photos of that era, it was easy to distinguish between a real bill and a photographed copy.
When the feds standardized the look of paper bills in 1929, the green on the back remained because green ink was plentiful, durable and associated with “the strong and stable credit of the government,” according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which designs and produces money.
Of course, if you've taken a close look at your cash lately, you'll have noticed that bills produced in the last decade or so have splashes of subtle background color: purple, orangey copper, even blue. Did the Treasury Department hire fashionistas to spruce up our dollars? Not so much — it's part of the ongoing effort to thwart increasingly sophisticated counterfeiting methods.
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Greenback movement, (c. 1868–88), in U.S. history, the campaign, largely by persons with agrarian interests, to maintain or increase the amount of paper money in circulation. Between 1862 and 1865, the U.S. government issued more than $450,000,000 in paper money not backed by gold (greenbacks) to help finance the Union cause in the American Civil War. After the war, fiscal conservatives demanded that the government retire the greenbacks, but farmers and others who wished to maintain high prices opposed that move. In 1868 the Democrats gave partial support to the Greenback movement by endorsing a plan that called for the redemption of certain war bonds by the issuance of new greenbacks.
The Panic of 1873 and the subsequent depression polarized the nation on the issue of money, with farmers and others demanding the issuance of additional greenbacks or the unlimited coinage of silver. In 1874 champions of an expanded currency formed the Greenback-Labor Party, which drew most of its support from the Midwest and after Congress, in 1875, passed the Resumption Act, which provided that greenbacks could be redeemed in gold beginning Jan. 1, 1879, the new party made repeal of that act its first objective. The 45th Congress (1877–79), which was almost evenly divided between friends and opponents of an expanded currency, agreed in 1878 to a compromise that included retention of the Resumption Act, the expansion of paper money redeemable in gold, and enactment of the Bland–Allison Act, which provided for a limited resumption of the coinage of silver dollars. In the midterm elections of 1878, the Greenback-Labor Party elected 14 members of Congress and in 1880 its candidate for president polled more than 300,000 votes, but after 1878 most champions of an expanded currency judged that their best chance of success was the movement for the unlimited coinage of silver.
US dollar Inflation Chart
This US dollar inflation chart above shows the diminishing power of the fiat Federal Reserve notes also more generally known as the US dollar since 1913.
That was the year in which a central bank got enacted, unconstitutionally many would argue, here in the United States of America. Back then $100 US dollars could get you 4.87 troy ounces of gold bullion. Today it is using today's spot gold price when writing this in mid-2019. A $100 bill won't even get you 2 grams of gold bullion. That is a 98.6% devaluation in the US dollar's gold-bullion-buying-power since 1913.
Just pull a cash note out of your pocket (that is if you have yet to accept a cashless society), and read the top of the note's front or obverse face. That is the privately owned central bank which operates here in the USA and has gotten to 'legally' run its operations at the behest of our US Congress since 1913.
Their mandate is stable prices and full employment. In ours, and many other well-informed opinions, the Federal Reserve has consistently and historically failed on both these charges. They are, at best, incompetent, in other words.
Too, the fiat Federal Reserve note is probably one of the USA's most successful exports in our modern times. It remains the dominate fiat reserve currency of the world.
While at the same time, other competing government gold reserves are building (China gold holdings, Russian gold reserves, EU gold agreements, etc.) readying to move away from the fiat Federal Reserve note as the sole dominate numeraire or trade currency globally.
Tying the fiat Federal Reserve note into the world's massive petrol/oil trade and thus further ingraining it to global financial plumbing in the 1970s. Doing so has allowed us to extend our fading empire's duration in time.
Too, the US dollar's now fully fiat essence, has also helped hollow out our middle class and driven wealth disparity to dangerous levels both politically and sociologically speaking.
A significant problem with the US dollar inflation chart above is that it uses data from the government's own Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), which has since 1980, been categorically misrepresenting actual price inflation using sleight of hand hedonic adjustments.
The powers that be tell us there is no price inflation and their favored media beat us over the head psychologically with this out of touch mantra. Anyone with a brain and average Joe experience should be able to deduce, that the prices for the real things that we need (e.g., housing, medical expenses, insurance coverage, education, childcare costs, etc.). Have only been rising in this 21st Century.
The real tell for fiat US dollar purchasing power loss is how it has performed vs. gold over the long term.
This is precisely why historically governments like to conspire from time to time in rigging gold's price at a fixed and or depressed price level (e.g., London Gold Pool collapse 1968, the now historic record 1974 attempt to dissuade US citizens from buying gold, etc.).
Eventually, market rigging forces lose way to real market forces, and a new fiat price for gold bullion establishes exorbitantly higher than beforehand.
Take a look at our nation's history using how many troy ounces of gold bullion that $1000 US dollars can buy.
The History of the $1,000 Bill
There has been a lot of press lately, even outside of currency dealer circles, about a man who brought a $1,000 bill from 1918 into the Gold & Silver Pawnshop featured on the hit History Channel TV series Pawn Stars. The customer said he had been given the bill by his grandmother.
“Very few people were walking around with these, so there’s not a lot in circulation,” said the pawn shop co-owner Rick Harrison. I’ve seen lots of old, high-dollar bills like this go for tens of thousands of dollars.” Harrison paid $2,500 for the note and sent it to the Federal Reserve to get graded. After the bill was graded at /very fine,” Harrison estimated its value at approximately $7,000. It is believed to be one of only 150 $1,000 bills in circulation. Despite the potential for a hefty profit, Harrison’s father, Richard “Old Man” Harrison decided to keep it for himself.
Early Era $1,000 Bills
The first $1,000 bill was issued by the U.S. in 1861. That year, the Confederate States of America also included a $1,000 note among its first bank notes. These 1861 Montgomery issues (from Montgomery, AL, the original capital of the confederacy) can be very valuable, particularly if they are uncirculated. As the war wore on, Confederate money became increasingly worthless. Many people destroyed the notes after the Civil War, since they no longer had value. Some people saved them, and though rare, they can still be found today.
The 1918 blue seal $1,000 bill features a portrait of Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury, on the front, and the profile of a bald eagle, holding arrows and an olive branch, on the back. In today’s economy, $1,000 is roughly equivalent to over $15,000. Hamilton is one of the few people who were not a U.S. President to appear on U.S. currency, along with John Marshall and Benjamin Franklin.
“Modern Era” $1,000 Bills
When paper money was changed to its current size in 1928, the production of $1,000 bills increased significantly. Millions of them were printed, and thousands are still available and held by the general public as well as old money collectors.
The 1928 green seal bill has a portrait of Grover Cleveland. They are worth slightly more than the later issues in 1934. A 1928 $1,000 bill with a low digit serial number (two numbers or fewer at the end) is worth more, as are those with a star following the serial number. A 1928 $1,000 bill with a serial number that ends with a star symbol will be very valuable to rare currency collectors and dealers.
Fun fact: Grover Cleveland has been the only U.S. President to serve two non-consecutive terms. He was first elected in 1884. He won the popular vote in 1888, but lost the electoral vote. He was eventually re-elected in 1892.
The 1934 and 1934A issues are the most common $1,000 bills featuring Grover Cleveland. Both notes carry the same premium, and they generally trade in the rare currency market for about the same amount as the 1928 green seals. As with other antique currency, value is based on issuing district, star note designation, condition, serial number, and seal color.
The End of the $1,000 Bill
As with other notes above $100, no $1,000 bills were printed after 1945. Later in the 20 th century, advances in secure money transfer made large bills unnecessary for legitimate purposes. As these and other large bills increasingly became used for organized crime and drug trafficking, President Richard Nixon put a halt to the distribution of any bills over $100 in July 1969 to make it more difficult to hide movements of large amounts of currency.
Why is American currency green? - HISTORY
As with many etymologies, the exact root of this word is difficult to say with one hundred percent certainty. However, the leading theory is extremely plausible and backed up by a fair bit of documented evidence. Specifically, it is thought that a dollar is called a “buck” thanks to deer.
One of the earliest references of this was in 1748, about 44 years before the first U.S. dollar was minted, where there is a reference to the exchange rate for a cask of whiskey traded to Native Americans being “5 bucks”, referring to deerskins.
In yet another documented reference from 1748, Conrad Weiser, while traveling through present day Ohio, noted in his journal that someone had been “robbed of the value of 300 Bucks.”
At this time, a buck skin was a common medium of exchange. There is also evidence that a “buck” didn’t simply mean one deerskin, but may have meant multiple skins, depending on quality. For instance, skins from deer killed in the winter were considered superior to those killed in the summer, due to the fur being thicker.
It is thought that the highest quality skins were generally assigned a one to one value with one skin equaling one buck. In contrast, for lower quality skins, it might take several of them to be valued at a single buck. The specific value for given sets of skins was then set at trading.
In addition, when the skin was from another animal, the number of skins required to equal a buck varied based on the animal and the quality of the skins. For instance, there is one documented trade where six high quality beaver skins or twelve high quality rabbit pelts each equaled one buck.
This use of skins as a medium of exchange gradually died off over the next century as more and more Europeans moved in and built towns and cities. Once the U.S. dollar was officially introduced after the passing of the Coinage Act of 1792, it quickly became the leading item used as a medium of exchange, but the term “buck” stuck around and by the mid-nineteenth century was being used as a slang term for the dollar.
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While it may be tempting to think that the “buck” in this sense is where we also get the phrase “pass the buck”, most etymologists don’t think the two are related. The leading theory on the origin of the phrase “pass the buck” is thought to come from poker, with one of the earliest known references of the idea of literally passing a buck being found in the 1887 work by J.W. Keller, titled “Draw Poker”. In it, Keller states:
The ‘buck’ is any inanimate object, usually knife or pencil, which is thrown into a jack pot and temporarily taken by the winner of the pot. Whenever the deal reaches the holder of the ‘buck,’ a new jack pot must be made.
As to why it is then called a buck, it is thought that may have arisen from the fact that buck-handled knives were once common and knives were often used as the “buck” in this sense. As for the figurative sense of passing the buck, this didn’t start popping up until the early twentieth century.
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