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If you want to learn more about the book's sweeping contents and its exploration of the Civil War era, please feel free to peruse the TABLE OF CONTENTS below.

 

Take a romp through the era's personalities, politics, counterfeiting, "non-governmental" coinage, women entering the federal workforce and confederate printing business, missing money, especially at the end of the War, and more — much more!!

Learn about long-gone mints and mines in North Carolina, Georgia, the Big Easy-and even out west in The Dalles in Oregon along the Columbia River.

TABLE OF CONTENTS (expanded)




This version of the Table of Contents is a pretty accurate reflection of how the book will be structured and organized — although there may well be a "nip-and-tuck" here-and-there.

It promises to be a colorful look of the impact the War of the Rebellion had on a sweeping array of topics — examining a variety of aspects of coins, currency and banking...in some cases, changes that linger on to this very day! You may not look at that frazzled folded one dollar bill in your pocket the same way again!!

Enjoy your visit! Place an order —maybe two!! And thanks for taking the leap — this will be worth your wait!

Introduction / Ten Tumultuous Years 1857 through 1867

1857 - the fuse is lit……..

 

John Brown's Infamous raid in Harpers Ferry (Virginia at the time)

The Dread Scott decision of the U.S.S. Supreme Court —

 

– Gives the “notice of foreclosure” to the Missouri compromise

Financial Panic spreads through the Banking Community; thousands lose industrial jobs

Illicit plans afoot to conquer Nicaragua and create a slave state

The Coinage Act of 1857 passes  Outlaws the circulation of foreign coins; ends the half-cent and the so-called “large cent” – ushers in the era of “small cents” (Flying Eagles, Indian Heads and Lincolns).  Large cents were actually one full cent’s worth of copper – small cents represented 2/10s of a cent’s worth of copper.  This set the stage for the mercurial rise in the production of CIVIL WAR  and Merchant’s tokens.  With the 8/10s of a cent spread between raw material and a “one cent” coin, private minting of tokens was a true money-maker for a spell.

Glossary - A Reader's guide to Terms and Slang of the Time

Money, Mayhem, Might, Talisman, Coiner, Trines, Boodle-Carriers, Scalawags, Uncle Billy’s Bummers, Die-sinkers (a small sampling)

A Parcel of Rogues in a Nation (Thanks Mr. Burns)

MMM’s Cast of Characters (and what a cast it is…)

Lincoln, Sherman, Grant, Jefferson Davis, Moneta, Liberty, Salmon Chase, Beauregard, Memminger, M. Banzano, William Wood, Lucy Pickins, Treasury Girls, Francis Spinner, Captain William Parker CSA, General Basil Duke CSA, General Joe Johnston CSA, Tracy R. Edson (ABN), Benjamin F. Evans & Harvey Cogswell –these names are  just the tip of the iceberg.

What was in Your Wallet or Purse in the 1860s?

Half-cents, Cents, Two-Cent Pieces, Three-Cent Pieces (Nickel and Silver), Half-dimes, Liberty-seated Silver Dimes, Quarters, Half-dollars, and Silver Dollars; Gold Dollars, Double-Eagles (if you were really lucky), and a smattering of a few of the 10,000 different Civil War Tokens flooding the country- side….. oh, and fractional currency, scrip, perhaps sutler’s tokens and scrip, maybe an encased postage stamp or two…. And no doubt lots of counterfeits

Ready to Rumble; Ready for War

The Treasury of the North versus the Treasury of the South in 1861 (Washington, D.C. and Montgomery, Alabama, respectively)

General Sherman's warning to a colleague at the Academy in Pineville, Louisiana in 1861

No Small Change - Part A (A couple of "A Man walks into a Bar" Stories)

Small change across the land is hoarded or used in the war effort (especially copper).

How the War impacted the US Mint’s output – how the War heavily contributed to the lack of small change because of mint closures and shortages of bullion

Fractional Currency

The federal government’s response to the lack of pocket change – strangely, a seemingly innocent decision for choosing portraiture on fractional notes leads to yet another big change in our money that lasts to this day….. see “Living Women and Dead Presidents on pictured on Paper Money”

No Small Change - Part B (Sweeping changes that live on.....)

  • Birth of Folding (Paper) Money printed by Uncle Sam (originally called “Bureau of Currency,” now the “Bureau of Engraving and Printing”)
  • Birth of the IRS (Bureau of Revenue)
  • Birth of the Secret Service – to go after the scourge of Counterfeiting – Lincoln had authorized its formation on the day that he died
  • Birth of Bureau of Redemption (now Mutilated Currency Department – see “The Dog Ate My Rent Money” story/Epilogue)
  • In God we trust muscles in on E Pluribus Unum
  • No likeness of a living person on US Currency becomes law
  • Women enter the federal workforce in large numbers – specifically the US Treasury – beginning in 1862

Queersmen, Boodle-runners and Koniackers

Counterfeiters and Counterfeiting – Patriotic Duty and Sheer Opportunism

Counterfeiting was a great business to be in – during the Civil War and it did get tougher in the decades that followed.  It was also a weapon of economic warfare.  It was estimated that almost a third of all paper money that was in circulation by the War’s end was fake – that’s a lot of bogus cash -- and that also includes bogus banknotes and stock certificates circulating in banks and in Wall Street.

During the War, some of the counterfeiting activities were more-or-less sanctioned….  In the North, a chap by the name of Sam Upton produced Confederate notes as a form of “souvenir” and eventually flooded the South with his notes.   Inflation ruined the Southern economy and eventually starved the South – the printing of fake money, on top of the 1.7 billion in CSA currency being churned out legitimately without reservation, caused the Southern currency to be worth around 1 cent on the dollar by the War’s bitter end.

There were many counterfeiters – each with a colorful tale: “Cranky Tom” Hale, “Old Lame Sam” Brown, William Brockway, and the “King of Counterfeiters,” Pete McCartney, to name but a few.

Here are a few choice slang words associated with counterfeiting and other nefarious types of characters of the era……Used to denote folks who operated in the same “world” as Counterfeiters (such as Thieves, Ne’er-Do-Wells, Picket-Pockets, and Gypsies)

  • Shover – 19th century slang for a drug pusher – often lumped in with burglars, thieves and dealing in fake money – generally tossed into the same crowd as boodle-carriers and cracksman and other “small (time) rogues.”
  • Boodle-carriers – slang for money runners, usually counterfeit bills to get into circulation – derived from the Dutch word for money, Boedel.
  • Cracksman – 19th century slang for a safe-cracker – a valuable skill needed in the clandestine world of “thievery,” an allied trade to counterfeiting and boodle-carrying.
  • Queersman – a counterfeiter or one who helps distribute fake notes
  • Koniacker -  a counterfeiter
  • Bushwhackers and Highwaymen – “outlaws” who made a living stealing from travelers on the roads; many a wagon – both civilian and military – was way-laid and relieved of its valuables.  Some bushwhackers were former military men, who resorted to thievery as a means of making a living.
  • Rhino – Ready money or cash.  There is no clear attribution as to how Rhino came to mean cash.  One of the more speculative guesses is that the poor rhinoceros was “worth its weight in gold” dead – apparently because of the animal’s worth as an aphrodisiac.

"Taken in Trust" 5 US Mints in operation when the War erupts —

Three of the Five are in the South….

3 are held hostage – 2 become Casualties of War (Dahlonega and Charlottte) – The powerhouse New Orleans Mint is seized and then operations are curtailed for 18 years

  1. How did the War Impact the Nation’s Production of Coinage
  2. Who were the people running the mints down South? What were their allegiances?

 

The Gold Rush Down South Before the California Strike

The beginning of coining Gold Pieces — 1820s and 1830s in the Piedmont Region Georgia to North Carolina

The Trail of Tears — Native Americans forced to leave, largely due to the discovery of gold in the hills in Northern Georgia (during Andrew Jackson’s Presidency)

Mining Operations and the rise short-haul Railroads — later these rails become targets of Sherman’s Bummers

Big push for Southern US Mints in the 1830s — getting gold to the Philadelphia Mint was too risky and costly for mining speculators

“There’s Gold in Them Thar Hills” — attribution to Dahlonega; not to California — and Mark Twain’s interpretation of the plea to Miners

Tales About New Orleans and the Mint in the French Quarter

Including “Shoot em on the Spot” quote and attribution (There is a Dix Token that celebrates that order/patriotic token)

The City of New Orleans (and the Mint and Custom House) is returned to Union control in mid-1862, with the US Marines in the vanguard

General Ben Butler and the Hanging of the Gambling Man in front of the New Orleans Mint

Beauregard and his work at the US Custom House in the Big Easy

(Gen.) William T. Sherman spent time there before the hostilities broke out; what did he think of the prospects for War as time ran out…

1862 American Bank Note Co closes its operations there, apparently with regrets – it was a profitable place to be…….

Inventor and Mint Employee Philos B. Tyler perfects the Knuckle Steam Press for producing coins and also later manufactures the steam engine to efficiently run the presses - selling his equipment to his former employer, the U.S. Mint at New Orleans before the War broke out

Jefferson Davis's Talisman & the North's Mockery

THE 1861-O (New Orleans Mintmark) Half Dollar and the 4 unique “Confederate” Half Dollars struck in April of 1861

4 unique half dollars were struck — they went to a small band:

Dr, B.F. Taylor (coiner) + Dr. Edward Ames + John Riddell + Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy.    These four coins disappeared and reappeared through the decades – the strange tale of Mark Breame, who once lived in Cashtown, PA and claimed to have had the very coin that once belonged to Davis.  He told his story in Gettysburg in 1936 and then vanished.  (We found his death record…)

After the four Confederate Halves were produced, the New Orleans mint was closed and did not strike another coin until 1879.  Maximillian Bonzano, who was the Melter in the days leading up to the War, and who left for the North while the CSA was in control, was pivotal in assessing the condition of the Mint and made the official report to the Director of the Mint (getting the Mint prepped for action) in 1878.

Jeff Davis had his talisman/half-dollar either on his personal or with his wife’s personal affects (depending on tells the tale); nonetheless, he treasured it and acknowledged 14 years later that it was confiscated from him at the time of his arrest and capture.

THE NORTH made a mockery of the South by producing a “cartoon coin” — a 50 cent piece with the “Alter of the South” on one side and the Motto “Owe Ever pay Never” on the other (referring to the $200 million in Northern Debt that was “dis-avowed” by the South when the War broke out.)

The Treasury Girls and the Legacy of Francis Spinner

In 1909, the original Treasury Girls (hired by Spinner during the Civil War) erected a statute in his honor in his hometown in upstate New York.  Spinner believes that hiring those women was his greatest legacy of public service at the U.S. Treasury.

The National Bank Act and Amendments (NBA)

In order to be made to pay for the Civil War, there were some profound changes that had to be made for the Union's war effort. One of the most significant changes was the idea of a national banking system, with a uniform currency and parity everywhere with regards to value of money. Until the Civil War erupted, the State Banks were the dominant issuers of currency. There was little federal regulation — and bank failures were common, all the way up to the Panic of 1857.

Until that time, some 8,000 different notes were in circulation — states, cities, canal companies, railroads, and other enterprises printed currency, and sometimes the notes had solid value...and sometimes they were not worth the paper they were printed on.

Once the National Bank Act of 1862 passed, two huge changes occurred:

  1. The federal government began printing its own money — "Greenbacks" — and the Bureau of Currency was born, as well as the Comptroller of the Treasury.
  2. Assets from the State banks were gradually assimilated into the new national banking system — in just three short years, the transition was largely complete, making it possible to have a uniform currency accepted at all nationally chartered banks.

Originally intended to be a war-time measure, the federal government's authority to produce currency was ultimately extended indefinitely. Many years after the war had ended, Massachusetts Senator, Henry Cabot Lodge, praised the National Bank Act saying, it was basically a great legacy of U.S. Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase as a "public financier" and that its endurance was a great benefit to the American people.

Here are some of the key players in the passage of the National Bank Act (NBA):

  • The Comptroller of the Treasury – Hugh McCollough  (Hugh’s advice to Bankers  1863)
  • Sec of Treasury Salmon Chase
  • Senator John Sherman – OH - getting NBA through Senate 23-21
  • Rep. Samuel Hooper – Mass – getting NBA through the House
  • Remarks/praise by Henry Cabot Lodge (Mass) – for Chase

Joseph Wharton and the Nickel Revolution

The introduction of Nickel in U.S. minting and industry can trace its roots to the Civil War and the vision of Industrialist Joseph Wharton.

Nickel entrepreneur, and later steel magnate, Wharton pitched the use of nickel for coinage to the U.S. Mint successfully during the Civil War; the very first U.S. nickel coin — a three-cent piece roughly the same size as a dime — rolled out of the Philadelphia Mint and into circulation in 1866.

In 1862, when the Nation was in the full throes of War, Wharton bought a failed nickel mine in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania — in a hamlet now called (you guessed it) Nickel Mines, PA. It seems that the principal reason that the mine wasn't profitable was that the nation lacked the professional capacity to smelt the metal and make it useful for industrial purposes. That is the very area that Wharton used his knowledge and wealth to produce — he brought the best metallurgists over from Europe and perfected the process of smelting the metal here.

It is reported that his mines went on to produce, in some years, a staggering 25% of the world's nickel in the 4th quarter of the 19th century.

He also founded the first collegiate school of business in the entire world at the time — the Wharton School of Business.

Talkin' Tokens

There have almost always been privately struck tokens — coins that are designed and produced by individuals and by mercantile interests (stores, purveyors of drink and other vices, taverns, tailors, barbers, and so on) — tokens of this type are often only redeemable at the place of business that issued them. Where there has been commerce, there have been tokens. They help generate repeat business, and in the days of the Civil War, they also helped people get through hard times and severe shortage of "legitimate" coinage.

The Civil War was a time of extraordinary shortages of just about everything, and the laws on the books going into the War period were lax when it came to the rules governing small change — particularly coins struck in copper. As long as an entrepreneur or merchant wasn't copying U.S. Coins precisely, especially pennies, it was not considered counterfeiting to produce tokens for general circulation. (Many were marked "Not One Cent" to protect the issuer.) Many — not all — of the tokens of the period were accepted by any willing merchant, not just the issuer.

From 1862 until 1864, when strict new federal laws were passed prohibiting the tokens in general circulation, there was a meteoric rise in the production and general circulation of Civil War Tokens. An amazing variety were produced — some 10,000 different types, mostly produced by die—sinkers and engravers in the Northern States. It is guesstimated that some 20 million were produced during the Civil War.

Tokens became very collectible by some younger collectors around the time of the Civil War's centennial (the 1960s), because they were, at the time, comparatively inexpensive, and the sheer variety made them a treat and a challenge to collect.

Civil war tokens are arguably distant ancestors of Bitcoins and other non-governmental currency. They were bestowed with an intrinsic value by the public and they were accepted by any and all merchants who chose to circulate them as small change.

In God We Trust vs. E Pluribus Unum — 2 Mottoes Side by Side

Petitions to add the word “GOD” (and other Masonic imagery) bombard US Treasury Secretary Chase during the War.  There are controversial issues to reckon with – at the heart of the issue is the Church versus State, not to mention that it literally takes an Act of Congress to change or add inscription on US coinage.  Also, some clergy argued that the Goddess of Liberty on our coins was to pagan – too Roman.

So – after two years of debate – the phrase “In God We Trust” first appeared on the newly issued copper Two-Cent piece (minted only in Philadelhia).  President Teddy Roosevelt was opposed to the motto and for one year – 1907 – the motto was dropped.

E Pluribus Unum remained the nation’s official motto and both phrases appeared simultaneously on many coins for many a decade.  Then, in 1956, Congress voted to adapt “In God We Trust” as the official motto.  A couple of years later, the Congress added the new motto to the nation’s currency for the first time.

In God We Trust vs. E Pluribus Unum — 2 Mottoes Side by Side

Petitions to add the word “GOD” (and other Masonic imagery) bombard US Treasury Secretary Chase during the War.  There are controversial issues to reckon with – at the heart of the issue is the Church versus State, not to mention that it literally takes an Act of Congress to change or add inscription on US coinage.  Also, some clergy argued that the Goddess of Liberty on our coins was to pagan – too Roman.

So – after two years of debate – the phrase “In God We Trust” first appeared on the newly issued copper Two-Cent piece (minted only in Philadelhia).  President Teddy Roosevelt was opposed to the motto and for one year – 1907 – the motto was dropped.

E Pluribus Unum remained the nation’s official motto and both phrases appeared simultaneously on many coins for many a decade.  Then, in 1956, Congress voted to adapt “In God We Trust” as the official motto.  A couple of years later, the Congress added the new motto to the nation’s currency for the first time.

Dead Presidents and Living Women on Currency — North and South

“No Likeness of any Living Persons” Law passed in 1866

Stopped a 15 cent fractional note honoring Sherman and Grant in its tracks

Who appeared on the Fractional currency and why did cause a controversy?  Answer: Secretary of the Spencer Clark and Treasury Salmon Chase and William Fessenden (US Senator and Secretary of the Treasury at the end of the War) – they put their portraits on fractional notes and caused an uproar in certain circles.

Making Money the Old-Fashioned Way

Diesinkers and engravers

Today’s “old-fashioned” coiners

Printers of Money — North and South

American Bank Note Company (ABN) – printing plant in The Bronx, New York

Bureau of Printing and Engraving (BEP) – at first, American Bank Note prints the money in sheets and it is sent to D.C. where the “Treasury Girls” sign it and trim it for final distribution.  BEP goes into the printing business after passage of the National Bank Act

Tracy Edson, himself an engraver, became the President of the ABN in 1860, is credited with purchasing the patent for the specially crafted green-colored ink that was coveted because it was thought to be tamper-proof by Counterfeiters.  It is this special ink that gave rise to the term “greenbacks” for the then-new US currency.

Evans & Cogswell – Charlestown (then Columbia) South Carolina

Evans and Cogswell printed many documents and official papers for the Confederacy, in addition to the billion-plus dollars in paper currency ordered up by the CSA.  One of the most famous documents that “E&G” printed was the Confederate Constitutional papers, which galvanized the Southern States towards secession.

In mid-1864, E&G felt that the situation was getting too dangerous in the port of Charleston, which was embargoed.   So they decided to move the printing operations in-land, to the “safety” of Columbia – ain’t that ironic…..  because in just a few short months…….

In 1865, Sherman’s Bummers come to Columbia – the most despised Southern Town at the time – and the Town and the Plant burn on February 17th, 1865   Bails of nearly worthless CSA currency go up in smoke – most speculate that the fire was set by retreating CSA soldiers to keep the funds out of the hands of Northerners and loal looters.

Slavery Depicted on CSA Notes

Curiously, very few pieces of currency printed by the Confederate States of America had any depiction of slavery – perhaps 8 designs out of hundreds.  Currency printed by the individual states in the South may tell a different tale…….

There is a British Medallion chiding the US for being so “behind” in banning the Slave Trade.

Hordes, Hoaxes and High Hopes...

The CSA Treasure Train – Where did all the Dough Go?  Both the CSA Treasury and all of the private banks in Richmond loaded their cash and other assets on the “Last Train to Danville” and skeedadled to the Deep South – by the time they were captured in Georgia, the dough was (largely) gone… dispersed along the way…. Or was it?

The Missing $54 million and the Hunt in Dent’s Run, PA – Was this Union wagontrain really what Robert E Lee was after in 1863?

The Sinking of the SS Republic near Savannah, GA – in a way, the South did “rise” again – 50,000 coins from the New Orleans mint recovered in 2003 and were carefully preserved after 150-plus years in the sea.

The End of the Line — Literally for the CSA Treasury

The last official document signed by President Jefferson Davis – turning the disposition of the dwindling CSA Treasury over to M. H. Clark, as Acting Treasurer, who accompanied the “Treasure Train” to its last fateful stop in Georgia.

Clark set up the last CSA Treasury “office” under a shade elm tree on May 5th 1865 in the Camp of General Basil W. Duke of Kentucky.  It was situated In the woods near Washington, Georgia.

The troops incinerate some 600-700 million of (worthless) Confederate Notes and Bonds.    Official accounts of how hard specie was distributed and accounted for were published in a Georgia State History Report dated 1918; most recollections were recorded in interviews in the 1880s.

Dog Tags Made From U.S. Coins

Including the 1864 Abe Lincoln commemorative coin celebrating the 25 states who voted for his re-election.  A medallion from England that puts down the US for its poor response to the slave trade.

EPILOGUE

The Dog Ate My Rent Story – you can thank the Civil War for that!

(a true tale from the Mutilated Currency Bureau of the US Treasury, which handles around 30,000 cases of battered paper money each year)