Here’s a post featuring a colleague of mine discussing the emergence of a single United States currency on NPR’s Planet Money podcast. A great 10-minute listen. The intro from NPR:
Before the Civil War, there were 8,000 different kinds of money in the United States.
Banks printed their own paper money. And, unlike today, a $1 bill wasn’t always worth $1. Sometimes people took the bills at face value. Sometimes they accepted them at a discount (a $1 bill might only be worth 90 cents, say.) Sometimes people rejected certain bills altogether.
On today’s show, we figure out how this world worked. And explain how the Civil War — and the Union’s need for money — changed everything.