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Thursday, June 21, 2012

America’s First Undeclared War & Hard Times - Civil War Tokens

Published by Charleston Voice, 06.20.12 

von Nothaus Liberty Dollars
And again, it was Jeffersonian South Carolinians that angered the new central government and stirred up patriotic passions in the new colonies. 

Be advised we will most likely see the re-appearance of "hard times" tokens. The minting of silver Liberty Dollar coins by the imprisoned Bernard von Nothaus was our first effort, but was crushed by our own government's tyranny. Bankers will use their government enforcers to make war on any substitutes to their counterfeit dollar. Remember the words of John D. Rockefeller: "Competition is a sin."

America’s First Undeclared War
[excerpted from  Coin Stories]

Although most people know that France was our ally towards the end of the Revolutionary War, what they don’t know is that just a few years later, France also became our enemy in our first undeclared war against another country. France suffered its own revolution in 1789 that overthrew the monarchy.

In 1797, France was run by a group of five men known as The Directory. The Directory wanted the United States to be an ally of theirs in a war against Great Britain. George Washington, on the other hand, wanted the United States to stay neutral. In 1794, the United States signed Jay’s Treaty with Great Britain which angered France. The French, in turn, unleashed their navy and privateers on American shipping.

Demand for Tribute

It was these events that led Pinckney [of Charleston, SC] and the others to travel to France to try to address the French grievances. When they got to France they were kept waiting by the French Foreign Minister Talleyrand. During this time, they were approached by three individuals, later identified as X, Y, and Z in documents. Messengers X, Y, and Z informed the American party that before any negotiations could begin, the United States would have to pay the five members of The Directory $50,000 each and pay tribute to France in the form of a $10,000,000 loan. These demands are what prompted Pinckney’s “not a sixpence” response.

Pinckney’s Not the Man!
The history regarding the origin of the “millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute” phrase has been somewhat controversial over the years. From shortly after Pinckney’s trip to France, until fairly recently, Pinckney was given credit for giving this “not one cent” reply to the French. Pinckney himself is said to have denied ever uttering the phrase in place of his “not a sixpence” response. In an October 1797 letter from Pinckney to Timothy Pickering, Pinckney wrote that he had replied to the French with the “not a sixpence” phrase.

So where did the phrase “Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute” come from?

Harper's the Man!

Shortly after returning from France, John Marshall, who would eventually become the 4th Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, was honored at a dinner in Philadelphia on the night of June 18, 1798. Representative Robert Goodloe Harper of South Carolina, Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, was one of those present at the dinner. Charles Pinckney was also present.

The next day a newspaper recorded the toasts that were given to John Marshall at the dinner the night before. The toast from Robert Goodloe Harper was stated as “Millions for defense, but not a cent for tribute!” It wasn’t long before people, and later historians, had taken these words and placed them in the mouth of Charles Pinckney for his reply to the French.

Barbary Pirates

Just a few years later, President Thomas Jefferson again took up the cry “Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute” in regard to the Barbary States of Tripoli, Algiers, and Tunis. These Barbary “pirates” demanded tribute from the United States in order to keep them from attacking American shipping. The capture and enslavement of the crew of the USS Philadelphia by Tripoli appalled most Americans. A newspaper known to be a strong supporter of Thomas Jefferson ran an article with the headline “Millions for Defense, but not a Cent for Tribute” thus picking up the rallying cry once again.

This Barbary hostage crisis was the equivalent in its day to the Iran hostage crisis at the end of the Carter Administration some 175 years later. The resulting military action, specifically the battle of Derne, led to the Tripoli portion of the phrase “From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli” in The Marine Corps’ Hymn.

Hard Times
By 1837, there were still many Americans that remembered the cry “Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute”. So it is not surprising that this would end up on many Hard Times tokens. These “hard times” came about as a result of President Andrew Jackson’s economic policies. These policies, which included the President’s stand against the Second Bank of the United States, certainly led to the Panic of 1837 and a resulting shortage of coinage due to hoarding. The production of Hard Times tokens was a direct response to help solve this nation's coin shortage during this time.

Only an idiot would not be able to equate this merry song from 175 years ago with today's tyranny!

An 1837 Song for Hard Times Token Collectors 

[during this period Pennsylvania was the manufacturing region of the country...CV] 
Tune - "Royal Charlie."

Hard times! - Hard times! - is now the cry,
The country's in confusion;

The Banks have stopped! - and still they try
To mystify delusion;

They give US trash,
And keep the cash
To send across the waters,

To pay for things
They bought from Kings,
To gull our sons and daughters! -

Then to the Polls! - ye noble souls! -
The Banks may cry for quarters!
But hear their doom - THEY SHALL RESUME,
Or forfeit all their charters!

Shall Corporations rule the soil,
That Washington defended?

Must honest people sweat and toil,
And see their rights "suspended?"

Must we be slaves,
To pamper knaves
Shall Bankers be our masters?

Must all our pay,
From day to day,
Be nothing but shin-plasters?

Then to the Polls! - ye noble souls! -
The Banks may cry for quarters!
But hear their doom - THEY SHALL RESUME,
Or forfeit all their charters!

Brave Jackson strove to keep us free,
He Lov'd his country dearly,

His "sound metallic currency"
Was not a "promise" merely:

If "Little Van's"
An honest man,
He'll imitate the Hero,

And send the whigs,
To dance their jigs,
At least - as low as Zero!

Then to the Polls! - ye noble souls! -
The Banks may cry for quarters!
But hear their doom - THEY SHALL RESUME,
Or forfeit all their charters!

As Congress is about to meet,
Upon a great occasion,

May no unholy scheme defeat
The common expectation: -

If Martin will
Be honest still,
The scenes which now are tragic, -

Must disappear
Before a year,
For honesty is "magic!!" -

Then to the Polls! - ye noble souls! -
The Banks may cry for quarters!
But hear their doom - THEY SHALL RESUME,
Or forfeit all their charters!

The "Empire State" may play her pranks,
And e'en the "Old Dominion,"

May white wash all her broken Banks
Regardless of opinion:

The Keystone State
Won't hesitate,
Tho' ills fall thick upon her,

To still maintain,
Without a stain,
Her high and "sacred honor."

Then to the Polls! - ye noble souls! -
The Banks may cry for quarters!
But hear their doom - THEY SHALL RESUME,
Or forfeit all their charters!

We duly understand our rights,
The rights of Law, and Nature: -

We'll vote no more for paper kites,
To fill our Legislature: -

For just Reform
We'll brave the storm,
Bold as Columbia's Seamen,

We'll do or die -
For Liberty, -
And prove that we are Freemen!!

Then to the Polls! - ye noble souls! -
The Banks may cry for quarters!
But hear their doom - THEY SHALL RESUME,
Or forfeit all their charters!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The song can be found under Popular Melodies on page 2 of the September 5, 1837 Gettysburg, Pennsylvania newspaper The Republican Compiler. It is listed as originally "by the editor of The Mountaineer." Source for song

Coin Stories
Appleby, Joyce. Thomas Jefferson. Macmillan, 2003.
Brown, Everit and Albert Strauss. A Dictionary of American Politics: Comprising Accounts of Political Parties, Measures and Men . . .etc. A.L. Burt, 1907.

Editor. “Letters to the Editor,” Time Magazine (April 12, 1937).

Keyes, Ralph. The Quote Verifier: Who Said What, Where, and When. St. Martin's Griffin, 2006.
Marrota, Michael E. "Hard Times Tokens." (May 31, 1994) (accessed June 4, 2009). Originally appeared in Topic 43 of the Well Collectibles Conference.

Meriwether, Colyer. Publications of the Southern History Association, v. 4. Southern History Association, 1900.

Rulau, Russell. Hard Times Tokens: 1832-1844, 6th Ed. Krause Publications, 1996. 

Realize for a moment. If a merchant cheated on the stated metal weight, or refused redemption for goods in his shop. Being a local businessman, the community wouldn't accept his tokens and most likely he would be bankrupted as he should be!