Written By Prashant Singh (Grade 10)
The US dollar has been the most widely used currency for a long time. It is an international currency and is used as legal tender by many countries in Europe. It is one of the easiest currencies to understand and use and is especially useful for storing value or money. The US Dollar has become an alternative and means of trading in international markets but has been the subject of several currency crises such as the 2008 financial crisis.
In 1845, George Washington established the Bank of Washington which offered loans and credit to the government and foreign banks. Later on, in 1870, Congress created the U.S. Mint to issue coins and coins to pay off debts incurred over the years.
Before, coins were made with nickel, copper and lead. Silver coins were very similar to silver coins today. Gold coins were also made like the ones made now but were much heavier. The silver coins were sold between 1800 and 1860, while the gold coins were sold in 1875, 1876, 1877, 1880, 1890, 1891, 1896 and 1897. Most silver coins were made in California and New Mexico. Around 1879, the U.S. minted their first Federal Mint Coin, a coin that measured 4.5 ounces. The first federal coin was made of bronze and weighed 5.5 ounces. In 1882, new paper bills were also produced and they were known as “greenback”. This paper currency had no design and was just plainly coloured with white ink.
During World War I, President Woodrow Wilson also proposed to print and mint all new coins which would be used as reserves and have them backed up from banks. Between the late 19th and early 20th century, more than 5,000 US banks issued banknotes. In 1907 the first penny banknotes were minted which were priced at $1, each one weighing 9 pounds. The most famous banknotes were made out of brass and copper and were printed on the side of old buildings in New York City. By 1933, there was around $100 billion worth of U.S. banknotes and that number increased to $250 billion in 1944. Today, banknotes are being printed all around the world and are still making good profits.
In 1883, the president, Woodrow Wilson signed into law the Federal Reserve Act which enabled banks and other financial institutions to accept both greenback and gold-coloured bank notes.
In 1892, congress authorized the creation of a full-scale industrial city. That area became known as Chicago, Illinois, after the state of Illinois. Due to poor planning, it became known as the “Little Italy of the North”. Due to the overcrowding of buildings, it was renamed Michigan Avenue when it started to grow. A part of Minnesota Street was named “Michigan Avenue”. Nowadays, only two major routes around California and New Mexico are named by this street. One is Michigan Ave. and another one is Grand Boulevard and Indiana State Road.
Featured Image Courtesy – Vintage Everyday