This chapter discusses the history of paper money. The history of paper money issued by a government belongs to the Americans. Bank paper and government paper share many things in common. Bank notes retain full parity of purchasing power with the gold or silver to which they promise title so long as they can be exchanged for the metal. Moreover, as British experience during the Napoleonic Wars showed, bank notes by no means lose all or even most of their value when convertibility into gold or silver is denied. The chapter examines the circumstances that account for the pioneering role of the American colonies in the use of paper money. It also considers the first issue of paper money by the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1690 and the rise of banks and banking during the colonial period.
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