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The Continental Dollar: What Happened to It after 1779?

  • Farley Grubb

Congress financed the American Revolution by issuing paper Continental Dollars. The story of the Continental Dollar is familiar to all -- a lot were issued and hyper-inflation ensued. Emissions were permanently discontinued in 1779. Thereafter, they became worthless and were forgotten. They had no impact on subsequent public finance. The veracity of the last part of this story is challenged here. Evidence is presented to establish that the disposition of the Continental Dollar remained an open question well into the 1790s. Evidence is also presented to establish the exact time path of the retirement of Continental Dollars between 1779 and 1790.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w13770.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13770.

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Date of creation: Feb 2008
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Publication status: published as “State Redemption of the Continental Dollar, 1779-90,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3d ser., vol. 69, no. 1 (Jan. 2012), pp. 147-180.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13770
Note: DAE
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  1. Garber, Peter M., 1991. "Alexander Hamilton's market-based debt reduction plan," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 79-104, January.
  2. Farley Grubb, 2007. "The Continental Dollar: How Much Was Really Issued?," NBER Working Papers 13047, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Farley Grubb, 2007. "The Net Worth of the U.S. Federal Government, 1784-1802," Working Papers 07-02, University of Delaware, Department of Economics.
  4. 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.
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