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John Kenneth Galbraith

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691171661

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691171661.001.0001

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An Instrument of Revolution

An Instrument of Revolution

(p.67) Chapter 6 An Instrument of Revolution

John Kenneth Galbraith

James K. Galbraith

Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses the use of paper money and assignats to finance the American Revolution and the French Revolution, respectively. Before the First Continental Congress assembled, some of the American colonies (including Massachusetts) had authorized note issues to pay for military operations. The Congress was without direct powers of taxation; one of its first acts was to authorize a note issue. More states now authorized more notes that financed the American Revolution. Robert Morris, considered the “Financier of the Revolution,” obtained roughly $6.5 million in loans from France, a few hundred thousand from Spain and later, after victory was in prospect, a little over a million from the Dutch. The chapter first considers how paper money was used to finance the American Revolution, along with the problem of inflation during the period, before turning to the French Revolution and how it was financed with assignats.

Keywords:   paper money, assignats, American Revolution, French Revolution, American colonies, notes, Robert Morris, loans, France, inflation

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