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Seigniorage, Legal Tender, And The Demand Notes Of 1861

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  • WILLIAM A. BOMBERGER
  • GAIL E. MAKINEN

Abstract

In the summer of 1861, the United States embarked on its first widespread use of paper money: the Demand Notes of 1861. Although their convertibility into gold ended at the end of that year, they remained acceptable for tariff payment at a par with gold coin while they were gradually replaced with paper money that did not share this provision, the Greenbacks. We present daily observations of exchange rates between the Notes, Greenbacks, and gold for the extended period during which they simultaneously circulated. These exchange rates substantiate our revisionist notion that the Notes were replaced because the tariff provision prevented them from generating sufficient seigniorage for wartime needs. (JEL E42, N12, N22)

Suggested Citation

  • William A. Bomberger & Gail E. Makinen, 2010. "Seigniorage, Legal Tender, And The Demand Notes Of 1861," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 48(4), pages 916-932, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ecinqu:v:48:y:2010:i:4:p:916-932
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    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1465-7295.2008.00205.x
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bomberger, W A & Makinen, G E, 1980. "Indexation, Inflationary Finance, and Hyperinflation: The 1945-1946 Hungarian Experience," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(3), pages 550-560, June.
    2. Smith, Gregor W. & Smith, R. Todd, 1997. "Greenback-Gold Returns and Expectations of Resumption, 1862–1879," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 57(03), pages 697-717, September.
    3. Calomiris, Charles W., 1988. "Institutional Failure, Monetary Scarcity, and the Depreciation of the Continental," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 48(01), pages 47-68, March.
    4. Bomberger, William A & Makinen, Gail E, 1983. "The Hungarian Hyperinflation and Stabilization of 1945-1946," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(5), pages 801-824, October.
    5. Gary Pecquet & George Davis & Bryce Kanago, 2004. "The Emancipation Proclamation, Confederate Expectations, and the Price of Southern Bank Notes," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 70(3), pages 616-630, January.
    6. Marc D. Weidenmier, 2002. "Turning Points in the U.S. Civil War: Views from the Grayback Market," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 68(4), pages 875-890, April.
    7. McCandless, George T, Jr, 1996. "Money, Expectations, and U.S. Civil War," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 661-671, June.
    8. Kagin, Donald H., 1984. "Monetary Aspects of the Treasury Notes of the War of 1812," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 44(01), pages 69-88, March.
    9. Richard C. K. Burdekin & Marc D. Weidenmier, 2001. "Inflation Is Always and Everywhere a Monetary Phenomenon: Richmond vs. Houston in 1864," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1621-1630, December.
    10. Wesley C. Mitchell, 1902. "The Circulating Medium During the Civil War," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 10, pages 537-537.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E42 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Monetary Sytsems; Standards; Regimes; Government and the Monetary System
    • N12 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • N22 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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