Saturday, September 15, 2012

US Mint & Coin Acts



United States Mint & Coin Act

George Washington  Copper Cents 1785 - 1792


The United States Mint was created when Congress signed into law the Coinage Act of 1782.



Superintendent of Finance Robert Morris


On the 15th of January, 1782, Superintendent of Finance Robert Morris'  plan to establish a United States Mint and coinage was laid before the United States in Congress Assembled. Morris wrote:
Finding by the Act of the United States in Congress of the seventh Instant that I am Instructed to prepare and report a Table of Rates at which the different Species of foreign Coins most likely to circulate within the United States shall be received at the Treasury I have been induced again to turn my Attention to an Object which has employed my Thoughts very frequently and which would have been long since submitted to Congress had I not been prevented by other Business and much delayed by those Things relating to this Business which depended upon others. I shall now pray Leave to deliver my Sentiments somewhat at large on this Subject.
The United States labor under many Inconveniences and even Disadvantages which may at present be remedied but which if suffered to continue would become incurable and lead to pernicious Consequences. It is very fortunate for us that the Weights and Measures used throughout America are the same. Experience has shewn in other Countries that the Efforts of the Legislator to Change Weights and Measures altho fully seconded by the more enlightened Part of the Community have been so strongly opposed by the popular Habits and Prejudices that Ages have elapsed without producing the desired Effect. I repeat therefore that it is happy for us to have throughout the Union the same Ideas of a Mile and an Inch a Hogshead and a Quart, a Pound an Ounce. So far our commercial Dealings are simplified and brought down to the level of every Capacity. With respect to our Money the Case is very widely different. The Ideas annexed to a Pound a Shilling and a Penny are almost as various as the States themselves.
Calculations are therefore as necessary for our inland Commerce as upon foreign Exchanges and the commonest Things become intricate where Money has any thing to do with them. A Farmer in New hampshire for Instance can readily form an Idea of a Bushell of Wheat in South Carolina weighing sixty Pounds and placed at one hundred Miles from Charlestown but if he were told that in such Situation it is worth twenty one Shillings and eight Pence, he would be obliged to make many Enquiries and form some Calculations before he could know that this Sum meant in general what he would call four Shillings. And even then he would have to enquire what Kind of Coin that four Shillings was paid in before he could estimate it in his own Mind according to the Ideas of Money which he had imbibed. Difficulties of this Sort do not occur to Farmers alone, they are perplexing to most Men and troublesome to all. It is however a fortunate Circumstance that Money is so much in the Power of the Sovereign as that he can easily lead the People into new Ideas of it and even if that were not the Case yet the loose State in which our Currency has been for some Years past has opened the Way for receiving any Impressions on that Subject. As we are now shaking off the Inconveniencies of a depreciating Medium the present Moment seems to be that in which a general Currency can best be established so as that in a few Months the same Names of Money will mean the same Things in the several Parts of the United States.
Another Inconvenience which admits of the same easy Remedy and which would indeed be cured by the very same Act is the Want of a legal Tender. This is as necessary for the Purposes of Jurisprudence as a general Currency is for those of Commerce. For altho there is great Impropriety not to say Injustice in compelling a Man to receive a Part of his Debt in discharge of the whole yet it is both Just and proper that the Law should protect the honest Debtor who is willing to pay against the vexatious Suits of an Oppressive Creditor who refuses to receive the full Value.
The Nature Value and Use of Money have always occasioned strong Temptations to the Commission of Fraud and of Consequence the Practice of counterfeiting is coeval with that of Coining. No Government can Guard its Subjects entirely against the wicked Ingenuity which has been exercised in this respect. But it has always been the Object of every wise Government to take all the Precautions against it which are within the Compass of human Ability. These Precautions will be most effectual where the Coins are few and simple because they by that Means become familiar to all Ranks and Degrees of Men but where the Coins are so numerous that the Knowledge of them is a kind of Science the lower Order of Citizens are constantly injured by those who carry on the Business of debasing sweating clipping counterfeiting and the like. It is therefore to be lamented that we have so many different Coins in the United States.
It is not necessary to mention what is in every Body's Mouth that the precious Metals were first used as Bullion and that the Inconvenience of weighing and the Difficulty of Assaying introduced the Practice of Coining in Order that the weight and fineness might be known at the first View and of Consequence the Value be instantly ascertained. It is equally unnecessary to observe that the great Privilege of declaring this Value by particular Marks has among all Nations been vested exclusively in the Sovereign. A Trust so important could not indeed be vested any where else because the Danger of abusing it was too great. And History informs us that Sovereigns themselves have not on this Occasion behaved with that Integrity which was alike due to their Subjects and to themselves to the Interests of their People and to their own personal Glory. Experience has already told us that the advantage of Gold as a Coin is in this Country very considerably diminished for every distinct Piece must be weighed before it can be safely received. Both Gold and Silver Coins are indeed preferable, in one respect to common Bullion that the Standard is presumed to be just and consequently they are received without the Delays and Expences of assaying. It must however be remembered that they are all foreign Coins and of Course we are not only exposed to the Tricks of Individuals but should it suit the Interest or Convenience of any Sovereign to make base Money for us there is Nothing to prevent it. If for Instance the King of England or any of his Birmingham Artists should coin Guineas worth but sixteen shillings Sterling our Citizens would readily and freely receive them at twenty one Shillings Sterling. It is my Duty to mention to Congress Information I have received that Guineas of base Metal are coined at Birmingham so well as to escape any common Attention. Now there can be no Doubt but that every such Guinea received here would be a national Loss to us of an English Crown. How much we suffer in this Way at present it is impossible to estimate.
What I have already had the Honor to observe contains some of the reasons why it appears to me highly necessary that an American Coin should be adopted without Delay and to these Reasons it may be added that there is a want of small Money for the common Occasions of Trade and that it is more felt by our Soldiery than any other Persons. For the little Pay which they do receive being either in Gold or at best in Dollars the Sutlers and others with whom they have Dealings continually take the Advantage of their want of Change and rate the Prices of their Goods accordingly.


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By: Stanley Yavneh Klos



  • First United American Republic: United Colonies of North America: 13 British Colonies United in Congress was founded by 12 colonies on September 5th, 1774 (Georgia joined in 1775)  and governed through a British Colonial Continental Congress.  Peyton Randolph and George Washington served, respectively, as the Republic's first President and Commander-in-Chief;
  • Second United American Republic: The United States of America: 13 Independent States United in Congress was founded by 12 states on July 2nd, 1776 (New York abstained until July 9th), and governed through the United States Continental CongressJohn Hancock and George Washington served, respectively, as the Republic's first President and Commander-in-Chief; 
  • Third United American Republic: The United States of America: A Perpetual Union was founded by 13 States on March 1st, 1781, with the enactment of the first U.S. Constitution, the Articles of Confederation, and governed through the United States in Congress Assembled.  Samuel Huntington and George Washington served, respectively, as the Republic's first President and Commander-in-Chief; 
  • Fourth United American Republic: The United States of America: We the People  was formed by 11 states on March 4th, 1789 (North Carolina and Rhode Island joined in November 1789 and May 1790, respectively), with the enactment of the U.S. Constitution of 1787. The fourth and current United States Republic governs through  the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate in Congress Assembled, the U.S. President and Commander-in-Chief, and the U.S. Supreme Court.  George Washington served as the Republic's first President and Commander-in-Chief.
 Capitals of the United States and Colonies of America

Philadelphia
Sept. 5, 1774 to Oct. 24, 1774
Philadelphia
May 10, 1775 to Dec. 12, 1776
Baltimore
Dec. 20, 1776 to Feb. 27, 1777
Philadelphia
March 4, 1777 to Sept. 18, 1777
Lancaster
September 27, 1777
York
Sept. 30, 1777 to June 27, 1778
Philadelphia
July 2, 1778 to June 21, 1783
Princeton
June 30, 1783 to Nov. 4, 1783
Annapolis
Nov. 26, 1783 to Aug. 19, 1784
Trenton
Nov. 1, 1784 to Dec. 24, 1784
New York City
Jan. 11, 1785 to Nov. 13, 1788
New York City
Nov. 1788 to March 3,1789
New York City
March 3,1789 to August 12, 1790
Philadelphia
December 6,1790 to May 14, 1800
Washington DC
November 17,1800 to Present

Shortly after my Appointment finding that there was a considerable Quantity of public Copper at Boston I ordered it round to this Place. It has safely arrived and will when coined amount to a considerable Sum. The necessary Machinery of a Mint can be easily made and there are Persons who can perform the whole Business. I must pray leave therefore to submit to Congress some few more particular remarks on this Subject as introductory to a Plan for an American Coin.
Altho most Nations have coined Copper yet that Metal is so impure that it has never been considered as constituting the Money Standard. This is affixed to the two precious Metals because they alone will admit of having their intrinsic Value precisely ascertained. But Nations differ very much in the relation they have established between Gold and Silver. In some European Countries an Ounce of pure Gold passes for fifteen Ounces of pure Silver. In others for fourteen. In China it passes for much less. The Standard therefore which is affixed to both Metals is in Reality affixed to neither. In England Gold is to Silver nearly in the Proportion of one to fifteen and in France nearly of one to fourteen. If a Man carries fourteen ounces of Gold from France to England he receives two hundred and ten Ounces of Silver which in France purchase fifteen ounces of Gold so that he gains on that Exchange one ounce of Gold. In like Manner he who carries from England fourteen Ounces of Silver to France receives one Ounce of Gold which in England purchases fifteen Ounces of Silver wherefore he gains on that Exchange one Ounce of Silver. If it be then supposed that the Coins of these two Countries were alike pure it must follow that in a short Time all the gold Coin of full Weight would be in England and all the silver Coin of full weight in France. But the light Silver circulating in England and the light Gold in France the real Standard of Coin in each would be different from the legal and seek a Medium of fourteen and an half of Silver for one of Gold altho the legal Standard might still be in the one Place fifteen and in the other fourteen.
The Demand which Commerce might make for any one of the precious Metals in Preference of the other would vary this real Standard from Time to Time and in every Payment a Man would get more or less of real Value for his Debt according as he were paid in the Coin of greater or lesser Value in relation to the real Standard. If for Instance the Debt were contracted when the Silver was to Gold as one to fifteen and paid when as one to fourteen; if the Debt were paid in Silver he would gain one thirtieth and if in Gold he would loose one thirtieth. In England the Money Standard is rather affixed to Gold than to Silver because all Payments are made in the former and in France it is rather affixed to Silver than to Gold.
Arguments are unnecessary to shew that the Scale by which every thing is to be measured ought to be as fixed as the Nature of Things will permit of. Since therefore a Money Standard affixed to both the precious Metals will not give this certain Scale it is better to make use of one only. Gold is more valuable than Silver and so far must have the Preference but it is from that very Circumstance the more exposed to fraudulent Practices. Its Value rendering it more portable is an Advantage. But it is an Advantage which Paper possesses in a much greater Degree and of Consequence the commercial Nation of England has had recourse to Paper for the Purposes of it's Trade altho the Mass of circulating Coin is Gold. It will always be in our Power to carry a Paper Circulation to every proper Extent. There can be no doubt therefore that our Money Standard ought to be affixed to Silver.
But Silver is liable like every Thing else to a Change of Value, if there is a Demand for it, to export, the Value will rise, if the Contrary it will fall, and so far it cannot be considered as a fixed Measure of Value. Before this Objection be considered it will be proper to make a few reflextions on another Part of the present Subject but in this Place I remark that if the Objection cannot be removed we must not suffer it to preponderate because it weighs alike against every other Metal.
To Coin Money is a certain Expence and of Course it is an Expence which must be borne by the People. In England the Coin when melted will sell as Bullion for just as much as its Weight in other Coin. The Expence of Coinage is paid by the Crown and of Course it is raised by Taxes from the People. In France the Coinage instead of being expensive yields a Profit. The Price given for Metal at the Mint is about eight Pr. Cent less than the same Quantity will yield when coined at the french Standard. Both of these Methods are liable to Objections. When Commerce demands an Exportation of Bullion from England the Coin of the Kingdom goes out in common with others; this increases of Course the National Expence of Coinage. Laws to prevent the Exportation or Importation of any Thing so valuable as Money are always Nugatory because they always can be eluded and therefore when private Interest requires they always will be eluded. That the Guineas of England therefore are not continually going away is to be attributed to the extraordinary Value affixed to Gold which has been just mentioned and which banishes silver continually. In France the People are not liable to this Inconvenience because their Money passing for more than its Value in Bullion, Bullion will always be exported in Preference of Coin. But for the same Reason there is always a strong Temptation to imitate their Coin and send it for the Purchase of their Commodities. It would be both impossible and unnecessary to distinguish the True from the false because both would be of equal intrinsic Value. The Place at which they were struck would be indifferent to the Receiver, of Consequence the foreigner who made french Coin would gain by his Trade and the french Nation would loose proportionately.
The Money paid for Coining or the Coinage of France has however this Advantage that the Money is a Standard which does not fluctuate with the Price of Bullion. This Coinage is as has been said about eight Pr. Cent. When Bullion is below ninety two it is carried to the Mint when above ninety two to the Broker or Silver Smith. The Coin still continues fixed nor will it bear Exportation until Bullion rises to an hundred when the french Coin would be as liable to Exportation as the English. In that Case it would be exported on one Hand, while on the other no more would have been coined for a considerable Period because to make the eight Pr. Cent Coinage it is necessary that the Mint Price should be ninety two. The Coin therefore could not long be exported if at all but would soon resume it's Value. The Price of Bullion must float between ninety two and an hundred while the Coin would preserve its fixed Quality as Money.
Hence then it appears proper that the Price of Coining should be defrayed by the Coinage because first it is natural and proper that the Price should be paid when the Benefit is received and that the Citizen in Return for the Advantage of being ascertained in the Value of the Medium of Commerce by the Sovereign should pay for ascertaining it just as that he should pay for the fashion of the Plate he uses or the Construction of the Cart he employs. Secondly it is right that Money should acquire a Value, as Money distinct from that which it Possesses as a Commodity in Order that it should be a fixed Rule whereby to Measure the Value of all other Things and thirdly it is wise to prevent the Exportation of the Coin which would involve an unnecessary national Expence and also to prevent the Imitation of it abroad so as to create a national Loss: For both which Purposes it is proper that the Coinage should only defray the Expence without making any considerable Profit. The Laws usual in all Countries with respect to the Money will then fully operate the Effect intended.
In Order that a Coin may be perfectly intelligible to the whole People it must have some Affinity to the former Currency. This therefore will be requisite in the present Case. The Purposes of Commerce require that the lowest divisible Point of Money or what is more properly called the Money Unit should be very small because by that Means Price can be brought in the smallest Things to bear a Proportion to the Value. And altho it is not absolutely necessary yet it is very desirable that Money should be increased in a decimal Ratio because by that Means all Calculations of Interest Exchange Insurance and the like are rendered much more simple and accurate and of Course more within the Power of the great Mass of People. Wherever such Things require much Labor Time and Reflection the greater Number who do not know are made the Dupes of the lesser Number who do.
The various Coins which have circulated in America have undergone different Changes in their Value so that there is hardly any which can be considered as a general Standard unless it be spanish Dollars. These pass in Georgia at five Shillings in North Carolina and New York at eight Shillings in Virginia and the four Eastern states at six Shillings in all the other States except South Carolina at seven Shillings and six Pence and in South Carolina at thirty two Shillings and six Pence: The Money Unit of a new Coin to agree without a Fraction with all these different Values of a Dollar except the last will be the fourteen hundred and fortieth Part of a Dollar equal to the sixteen hundreth Part of a Crown. Of these Units twenty four will be a Penny of Georgia, fifteen will be a Penny of North Carolina, or New York, twenty will be a Penny of Virginia and the four Eastern States sixteen will be a Penny of all the other States except South Carolina and forty eight will be thirteen Pence of South Carolina.
It has been already observed that to have the Money Unit very small is advantageous to Commerce but there is no Necessity that this Money Unit be exactly represented in Coin it is sufficient that its Value be precisely known. On the present Occasion two Copper Coins will be proper the one of eight Units and the other of five. These may be called an eight and a five two of the former will make a Penny Proclamation or Pennsylvania Money and three a Penny Georgia Money, of the latter three will make a Penny York Money and four a Penny lawful or Virginia Money. The Money Unit will be equal to a quarter of a Grain of fine Silver in coined Money. Proceeding thence in a decimal Ratio one hundred would be the lowest Silver Coin and might be called a Cent. It would contain twenty five Grains of fine Silver to which may be added two Grains of Copper and the whole would weigh one Penny Weight three Grains. Five of these would make a Quint or five hundred Units weighing five Penny Weight fifteen Grains and ten would make a Mark or one thousand Units weighing Seven Penny weight six Grains.

If the Mint Price of fine Silver be established at 22,237. Units per Pound. This being coined would be four Times 5,760 Grains or 23,040 Units. The difference is 803. Units and therefore the Coinage is 803 on 23,040 or somewhat more than 348/100 P. Cent, which would be about the Expence attending it. A Dollar contains by the best Assays which I have been able to get about 373 Grains of fine Silver and that at the Mint Price would be 1,440 Units. In like Manner if Crowns contain from 414. to 415 Grains of fine Silver they would at the Mint Price be worth 1600 Units.
When such a Coin shall have been established the Value of all others would be easily ascertained because Nothing more would be necessary than to have them assayed at the Mint. The Advantage of Possessing legal Money in Preference of any other would induce People to carry foreign Coin to the Mint until a sufficiency were struck for the circulating Medium. The remainder of the foreign Silver together with the Gold should be left entirely to the Operations of Commerce as Bullion.
In the present Moment it is by no Means of such Consequence to establish the relative Value of different Coins as to provide a Standard of our own by which in future to estimate them. If the Value were now sought they must all be estimated in Dollars because Dollars are called for in the several requisitions of Congress. Without noticing the Preference thus given to one foreign Coin over another it is sufficient to observe that if a greater Alloy should be introduced by the Spanish Government into their Dollars our interior regulations as to Money would be overturned and certainly we have no Security that this will not happen. There is not any great Inconvenience from leaving Matters on their present footing until they can be remedied by the Operations of a Mint for it is not to be supposed that all the Money raised by Taxes in a State is to be brought out of it. I expect that there will be very little Occasion to transport money from Place to Place. It is much easier to negotiate than to carry it and if any Species of Money is generally received within a State at the same Rate in which it is paid in Taxes there will be no Difficulty in expending it at its Value. Whenever Money shall be struck by Authority of the United States then indeed it will be proper to receive in Taxes no other Coin.

If Congress are of Opinion with me that it will be proper to Coin Money I will immediately obey their Orders and establish a Mint. And I think I can say with Safety that no better Moment could be chosen for the Purpose than the present. Neither will any thing have a greater tendency to restore public Credit for altho it is possible that the new Money will at first be received with Diffidence by some Yet when it has been fairly assayed it will gain full Confidence from all; and the Advantage of holding the only Money which can Pay Debts or Discharge Taxes will soon give it the Preference over all and indeed banish all other from Circulation. Whereas fixing a Relation of Value now on whatever Principles attempted might give Offence to the Power whose Coin should in any Instance be reduced from its present numerary Value among us.  

The recommendation was turned over to a committee of the states, consisting of Mr. Samuel Livermore, Mr. George Partridge, Mr. Ezekiel Cornell, Mr. Oliver Wolcott, Mr. William Floyd, Mr. Abraham Clark, Mr. George Clymer, Mr. Daniel Carroll, Mr. Joseph Jones, Mr. Benjamin Hawkins, Mr. Arthur Middleton, Mr. Edward Telfair. One month later, the United States in Congress Assembled considered the committee's recommendations and  a US Mint was approved with this resolution:

Resolved, That Congress approve of the establishment of a mint; and, that the Superintendent of finance be, and hereby is directed to prepare and report to Congress a plan for establishing and conducting the same. - February 21st, 1782


Was Delaware, Virginia, or New Hampshire the first US State?


With the enabling legislation to form the first US Mint now, the USCA would now await a more definitive plan from Robert Morris.  Wait they did, and it was not until  April 23rd, 1783, that the USCA formally heard from Superintendent of Finance Robert Morris, who wrote: 

On the twenty first of February 1782 Congress were pleased to approve of the Establishment of a Mint and to direct the Superintendent of Finance to prepare and report a Plan for conducting it. This matter has been delayed by various Circumstances until the present Moment. I now enclose Specimens of a Coin with a view that if Congress should think proper to appoint a Committee on the Subject, I may have the Honor of conferring with them, and explaining my Ideas of the Plan for establishing and conducting a Mint. Such Plan when reported by a Committee will more probably meet the Ideas of Congress than any which I might prepare.

His report was read on April 23, 1783 and referred to Mr. Nathaniel Gorham, Mr. Oliver Ellsworth, Mr. Thomas Fitzsimons, Mr. William Hemsley and Mr. Ralph Izard.  The legislation would linger in congress for the next three years beyond the tenure of Robert Morris' service as Superintendent of Finance.  Finally in 1786, under the presidency of Nathaniel Gorham, the USCA passed the following resolution:




An Ordinance for the establishment of the Mint
of the United States of America,
and for regulating the Value and Alloy of Coin.




It is hereby ordained by the United States in Congress assembled, that a Mint be established for the coinage of gold, silver and copper money, agreeably to the Resolves of Congress of the 8th August last, under the direction of the following officers, viz.

An Assay Master, whose duty it shall be to receive gold and silver in bullion, or foreign coin, to assay the same and to give his certificates for the value thereof at the following rates:
For every pound troy weight 2of uncoined gold or foreign gold coin, eleven parts fine and one part alloy, two hundred and nine dollars, seven dimes and seven cents, Money of the United States, as established by the resolves of Congress of the 8th of August last, and so in proportion to the fine gold contained in any coined or uncoined gold whatsoever.

For every pound troy weight of uncoined silver, or foreign silver coin, eleven parts fine and one part alloy, thirteen dollars, seven dimes seven cents and seven mills, Money of the United States, established as aforesaid; and so in proportion to the fine silver contained in any coined or uncoined silver whatsoever.

A Master coiner, whose duty it shall be to receive, from time to time, of the assay master, the bullion necessary for coinage; to report to Congress devices and proofs of the proposed pieces of coin, and to procure proper workmen to execute the business of coinage, reporting, from time to time, to the Commissioners of the board of treasury of the United States for approbation, and allowance, the occupation, number and pay of the persons so employed.
A Paymaster, who shall be the treasurer of the United States for the time being, whose duty it shall be to receive and take charge of the coin made under the direction of the Master-coiner, and to receipt for the same; to receive and duly enter the certificates for uncoined gold or silver issued by the Assay master, and to pay ninety-five hundredths of the amount thereof in gold or silver, and five-hundredths in the copper coin of the United States.

And it is hereby further Ordained, That the certificates to be given by the Assay master, to persons who shall lodge gold or silver in the Mint for coinage, shall be on fine blank paper, and expressed in the manner and form following, to wit:

MINT OF THE UNITED STATES.

I acknowledge to have received of A. B. for coinage, [here insert the weight] of [here insert the species] bullion, for the Amount of which pay toor bearer, the sum of at ten days sight, agreeably to the custom of the Mint. C. D. Assay Master.
To E. F. Pay Master of the Mint of the United States of America.

And it is hereby further Ordained, That the Officers above mentioned, shall settle their accounts monthly, agreeably to such forms and vouchers as shall be prescribed by the Comptroller of the treasury.

And it is hereby further Ordained, That the Officers shall enter into bonds to the United States in Congress assembled, for the faithful execution of the trust respectively reposed in them, in the manner and amount following, viz.

The Assay Master, in the sum of ten thousand dollars, and two sureties, each in the sum of five thousand dollars.

The Master Coiner, in the sum of ten thousand dollars, and two sureties, each in the sum of five thousand dollars.

And that the Officers mentioned in this Ordinance, as well as every other person employed in the Mint, shall take and subscribe the Oath of Office, established by the resolve of the 14th March, 1786.

And it is hereby further ordained, That it shall be the duty of the comptroller of the treasury to report monthly to the Commissioners of the treasury of the United States, a statement of the mint Accounts adjusted agreeably to the usual forms; and if on such statement or other information it shall appear, that there has been any neglect, mismanagement or abuse of trust, in any of the Officers mentioned in the within Ordinance, it shall be the duty of the commissioners of the board of treasury to suspend such officer or officers, and to report thereon specially to Congress.

And it is hereby further ordained, That the copper coin struck under the Authority of the United States in Congress assembled, shall be receivable in all taxes, or payments due to the United States, in the proportion of five dollars for every hundred dollars so paid; but but that no other copper coin whatsoever, shall be receivable in any taxes or payments whatsoever to the United States.

And whereas, The great quantities of base copper coin daily imported into, or manufactured within the several states, is become so highly injurious to the interest and commerce of the same, as to require the immediate interposition of the powers vested by the Confederation in the United States in Congress assembled, of regulating the value of copper, the coin so current as aforesaid;

It is hereby Ordained, That no foreign copper coin whatsoever, shall, after the first day of September, 1787, be current within the United States of America: And that no copper coin struck under the Authority of a particular state, shall pass at a greater value than one federal dollar for two pounds and one quarter of a pound, avoirdupois weight, of such copper coin.

Done by the United States in Congress assembled.


US Fugio 1787 cent - Mind Your Own Business  


The following year, in an effort to improve the Articles of Confederation, the USCA called the Philadelphia Convention to consider "... such alterations, and further provisions, as may be necessary to render the federal constitution adequate to the exigencies of the union."  

The United States in Congress Assembled, while it was awaiting the delegates of the states to assemble in Philadelphia, decided not to establish the mint.  The USCA did  authorized, however,  a design for an official US penny on April 21, 1787 and a  resolution to mint copper cents:

 That the board of treasury be and they are hereby authorized to contract for three hundred tons of copper Coin of the foederal standard agreeably to the proposition of Mr James Jarvis; provided that the premium, to be allowed to the United States on the amount of copper Coin contracted for, be not less than fifteen per cent; that it be coined at the expense of the contractor, but under the inspection of an Officer appointed and paid by the United States.
That the Obligations to be given, for the payment of the copper coin to be delivered under such contract, be redeemable within twenty years after the date thereof, that they bear an interest not exceeding six per cent per annum and that the principal and interest accruing thereon be payable within the United States. That the whole of the aforesaid loan shall be sacredly appropriated and applied to the reduction of the domestic debt of the United States and the premium thereon towards the payment of the interest of the foreign debt.

The penny was minted and referred to as the Fugio cent because of its image of the sun shining down on a sundial with the caption, "Fugio" (Latin: I flee/fly). This coin was designed by Benjamin Franklin with a bottom the message, "Mind Your Business". The image and the words form a rebus meaning that time flies, do your work. This design was also used on the "Continental dollar" issued as coins of unknown real denomination, and in paper notes of different fractional denominations in February 1776.

Fugio 1787 cent - We Are One


Some scholars believe that the word "business" was intended literally here, as Franklin was an influential and successful businessman. Given Franklin's history publishing aphorisms, it may have been intended to mean both monetary and social business. The reverse side of both the 1776 coins and paper notes, and the 1787 coins, bore the third motto "We Are One" (in English) surrounded by thirteen chain links, representing the original thirteen colonial states.

The Philadelphia Convention, of September 17, 1787, produced a new US Constitution for the United States of America. The constitution was ratified in 1788 and enacted in 1789.  The consequent Coinage Act of 1792, finally produced a US Mint and coinage.  The mew U.S. gold and silver coins transitioned to the motto "E pluribus unum" from the Great Seal of the United States.


Coinage Act of 1792
Click Here




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