The Full Wiki

Colonial Scrip: Wikis

Advertisements

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Encyclopedia

(Redirected to Colonial scrip article)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Colonial scrip was paper fiat money as opposed to specie issued by the colonies of the United States of America in the pre-revolution era, up until 1775. It was an altogether different money from Continental currency; which was money issued during the American Revolution, that depreciated rapidly, to fund the war effort.

Contents

Conception

Colonial scrip was not backed by gold or silver and therefore the colonies could control its purchasing power. This was similar to the "tally stick" system used by the British Empire for over 700 years. It was different from the conventional European mercantilist system of money which required governments to borrow from banks and pay interest for those loans, as gold and silver were the only regarded forms of money. Colonial scrip, were "bills of credit" created by the government, based on the credit of that government, and this meant that there was no interest to pay for the introduction of money. This went a considerable way towards defraying the expense of the Colonial governments and in maintaining prosperity. The Governments charged low interest when it loaned out this paper money to its citizens, with land as collateral, and this interest income lowered the tax burden on the people, contributing to prosperity.

The currency was born when a lack of gold and silver in the Colonies made trade hard to conduct, and a barter system prevailed. One by one, the Colonies began to issue their own paper money to serve as a medium of exchange to make trade vibrant. The Governments could then retire excess notes out of circulation by taxing the people, helping some colonies generally avoid inflation. Each colony had its own currency and some were better managed than others. It was banned by English Parliament in the Currency Act.

Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania version of this currency was said to be the most effective, because they controlled the money supply and issued only enough notes so as to satisfy the demands of trade, preventing inflation. In 1938, Dr. Richard A. Lester, an economist at Princeton University, wrote that “The price level during the 52 years prior to the American Revolution and while Pennsylvania was on a paper standard was more stable than the American price level has been during any succeeding fifty-year period.” Pennsylvania established a "land bank" that allowed landowners to borrow scrip with their land as collateral. They could borrow twice the value of their land, half of it representing actual land value, and the other half representing production potential of the land. The loan was to be retired over a set period of years, with the land ownership being restored to the citizen upon payment. When the loan was fully retired, another loan could be taken out.

Advertisements

Benjamin Franklin

Front page of Benjamin Franklin's autobiography

Benjamin Franklin helped create the Pennsylvania Scrip, and in his autobiography he wrote of this currency:

The utility of this currency became by time and experience so evident as never afterwards to be much disputed

Adam Smith

Adam Smith wrote of the Pennsylvania currency in his famed 1776 work The Wealth of Nations:

The government of Pennsylvania, without amassing any [gold or silver], invented a method of lending, not money indeed, but what is equivalent to money to its subjects. [It advanced] to private people at interest, upon [land as collateral], paper bills of credit…made transferable from hand to hand like bank notes, and declared by act of assembly to be legal tender in all payments...[the system] went a considerable way toward defraying the annual expense…of that…government [low taxes]. [Pennsylvania’s] paper currency…is said never to have sunk below the value of gold and silver which was current in the colony before the…issue of paper money.

See also

External links


Advertisements






Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message