Cash came out of the Civil War
Written by Sentinel-Tribune Staff
Thursday, 22 March 2012 09:43
(Editor's note: "Josh Franklin's Far Out Family Blog" is 10 chapters of Civil War history focusing on Ohio's role, written in a modern tone. Students, parents and teachers are invited to take the series a little further after reading it, and discuss the topics suggested below. The series is published through Ohio Newspapers in Education and was written by Steven Coburn-Griffis. The illustration is by Isaac Schumacher.)
Because of this blog, I have spent a lot of time learning about America's Civil War. I think that, at first, the leaders of the Union Army, including President Lincoln, believed that they'd win the war pretty quickly. I mean, the North had more men, more money, more guns and more resources. I think they thought they'd just roll on down and BANG.
That didn't happen.
But not only did that not happen, they started to realize that this was going to take a really long time to hash out. Here's the truth, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls: War is expensive, and I mean EXPENSIVE.
You ever wonder where paper money came from, at least the paper money we use in the good old U.S. of A.? The Civil War, that's where.
See, it used to be that money was metal: gold and silver and copper. But there's only so much gold and silver to go around. So this guy, Salmon P. Chase, suggested, "Hey. Why don't we use paper? We've got lots of that."
Okay, so he wasn't just some guy. He was, as a matter of fact, the Secretary of the Treasury, appointed to the position by the President himself. And he never said anything even remotely like what I just said. But that was the gist of it. And that's what they did. Funny thing, though. The first American one dollar bills didn't have a picture of George Washington on them, like they do now. Nope.
The guy who's grinning puss looked out at you from your shiny new paper dollar was none other than Salmon P. Chase. Seems he wanted to be president. And what better way to get people to think kindly of you than to see your face on the money they use to pay bills and buy food. Never happened, though. He was an Ohio governor, Secretary of the Treasury and Chief Justice of the United States, but never president.
Enough about Salmon P. Chase. Here's Uncle Ethan.
October 3, 1864
It has been nearly two years since I left our home. I am tired of war, of fighting, of bloodshed and killing. I am sick to my very soul with it. I have watched my fellows die, men who have fought beside me and, betimes, saved my very life. I have seen fields, fields not so very different from our own, spoiled with a veritable ocean of blood and I wonder what possible good could ever come from such ground, what wholesome seed could ever take root?
I have seen my enemy and, though in the heat of battle wanted nothing more than their life's blood spilled at my feet, know that they are very much the same as me. I have heard it said that this war pits kin against kindred and I know with all of my heart that it is true. Why, some of those soldiers at whom I aim my rifle are children younger even than I when I enlisted. I am so very much older now. Perhaps not in years, but in living.
I have come to fear that this war is a futile cause, even though I am still a true believer. The Union must not divide. All men must be free. But for every step that we take forward, the Rebs drive us back that very same step. We have chased the enemy across stony ground and found ourselves running back across that very same ground the next hour in full retreat. I am weary.
It is harvest time in Ohio. How I long for home.
Secretary of the Treasury
Chapter nine: questions and activities
Americans, even President Lincoln, didn't think the Civil War would last long. The United States is currently involved in two wars. Many people thought that neither would last very long. Check your local newspaper for news about each war. What do the articles say about the current situation in each region? Why do you think the conflicts are still happening?
Josh simplified Chase's reasons for suggesting paper currency. Research more about Samuel Chase. Chase did have some objections to paper bills. Why did he still suggest that Congress approve using the money?
Search today's newspaper for any news about U.S. money. What did you find? Where did you find it?
Last Updated on Thursday, 22 March 2012 09:44