We’ve previously showed you 31 Fascinating Facts About the Dollar’s Early History, which highlighted the history of U.S. currency before the 20th century. This was a very interesting period in which we looked at the money used by the first colonists, the extreme bust of the Continental currency, the era of privately-issued bank notes, and Congress’ emergency issuance of the fiat “greenback” during the Civil War.
However, the modern era of the U.S. dollar is just as interesting. We have it starting in 1913, when the Federal Reserve Act was passed by Woodrow Wilson. Not only did it establish a new central bank, but it also gave the Fed the authority to issue the Federal Reserve Note, which is now the dominant form of U.S. currency both domestically and abroad.
California was sparsely populated prior to the arrival of American settlers in the early 19th century. Even by 1846, San Francisco was a still small settlement with about 200 residents. It was in June of year that a group of American settlers rebelled against Mexican rule and raised their own flag, featuring a grizzly bear. The rebellion was soon subsumed into the official US takeover of California as part of the Mexican-American War. The discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in 1848 sparked the California Gold Rush, and the ensuing immigration of hundreds of thousands of settlers cemented American control. California became a state as part of the Compromise of 1850. The “Bear Flag” was adopted as the official state flag of California in 1911.
The Presidential $1 coin program was established by Congressional legislation in 2005. Beginning with the George Washington coin in January 2007, the US Mint produced four separate varieties each year, with each President honored in succession. The obverse design of the coins changes with each President, while the reverse design featuring the Statue of Liberty is consistent. Grover Cleveland, who served two separate terms as both the 22nd President and 24th President, is honored on two separate issues.
The Pilgrims were English Dissenters, a religious group that objected to certain practices of the Church of England. Facing persecution under the rule of James I, a group including William Bradford fled to the Netherlands in 1608, and more famously to the New World in 1620 aboard the Mayflower. Though they planned to sail to Virginia, they were forced to land in Massachusetts by poor weather. They established the Mayflower Compact to govern their settlement outside the governance of the Virginia Colony; this document is considered a founding document of American democracy. The annual Thanksgiving holiday is traced to the Pilgrim’s celebration of a successful harvest in 1621.
In 1803, Thomas Jefferson commissioned the Corps of Discovery, a small group of volunteers tasked with exploring the American West. The leaders of the expedition were Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, and the venture is more commonly known as the Lewis & Clark Expedition. The United States had somewhat inadvertently purchased a large claim from France, the Louisiana Purchase, and Lewis & Clark were some of the first Americans to explore these territories and the lands further west. They reached the Pacific Ocean near the mouth of the Columbia River in November 1804 and spent the winter there near present-day Astoria, Oregon. The expedition helped later American claims over the Oregon Country, which was also claimed by Great Britain until the Oregon Treaty of 1846.
For most people, our experiences in everyday life are with using lower numbers like one, two, or ten. We not only comprehend what it means to buy five apples, but we can also visualize exactly what that might look like. In other words, these are numbers that fall within a range that are very intuitive for most humans.
Extrapolate that a little higher and we can still comprehend the numbers, but we start to lose that intuition.
Are there 1,500 or 2,000 people at a music venue? It’s hard to know for sure, but we do at least have a basic comprehension of the sizes of those numbers. Every day, we do math with numbers in the thousands – a paycheck, a credit card bill, or paying rent.
Alabama was admitted to the Union as the 22nd state in 1819. One hundred years later, the Alabama Centennial Commission celebrated the anniversary with various local events. Perhaps envious of other states – legislation for a Maine centennial half-dollar was pending – the Commission lobbied Alabama Congressman Lilius Bratton Rainey for a half dollar of their own. Congressman Rainey introduced a bill asking for 100,000 commemorative half dollars on February 28, 1920. The legislation was passed later that year together with two other bills, each authorizing a commemorative issue: the Maine Centennial half-dollar, the Alabama Centennial half-dollar, and the Pilgrim Tercentenary half-dollar.
By the early 1920s, the American film industry had concentrated in Hollywood. However, the industry found itself in serious trouble following a number of lurid scandals. Even in this era of silent films, there was also criticism of Hollywood for sexual explicitness. Facing the prospect of a public boycott and government intervention, the industry looked for ways to improve its image.
Today, we all know the U.S. dollar as an iconic currency that is recognizable to people around the world.
How and why was it conceived, and why do we call it a “dollar” or a “buck”? How did the dollar’s early history help to shape today’s world?
Captain James Cook became the first European to reach the Hawaiian Islands on his third voyage in January 1778. After exploring the further reaches of the Pacific over the following year, he stopped in the Hawaiian Islands again and was killed in an altercation with natives. A century and a half later, Hawaii was a territory of the United States. A group of Hawaiian socialites set out to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Cook’s landing; one of their proposals was a commemorative half dollar. The proceeds were slated for the establishment of a memorabilia collection related to Cook’s voyage, which today resides in the Bishop Museum in Honolulu.