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The United States: From Greenbacks to Gold, 1862–79

The United States: From Greenbacks to Gold, 1862–79

Chapter:
(p.49) Chapter 2 The United States: From Greenbacks to Gold, 1862–79
Source:
Currency Politics
Author(s):
Jeffry A. Frieden
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691173849.003.0002

This chapter surveys US currency policy from the Civil War until the country returned to the gold standard in 1879. It shows that economic interests played a major role in the politics of US currency policy in this period. In particular, they appear consistent with the idea that those most likely to benefit from a weak dollar—farmers producing tradable crops and manufacturers facing import competition—were strong supporters of either staying off the gold standard or going to a depreciated silver standard. There is no question that the data are of questionable quality, and the evaluations of the arguments are indirect. Nevertheless, the results seem consistent over a series of votes that took place over a period of about ten years. And they served as a precursor to an even more striking and much better-known US debate over the gold standard in the 1890s.

Keywords:   exchange rates, currency policy, Civil War, gold standard, monetary policy

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