"We wouldn't give two cents for their chances of success."
How, even in the 19th century, an early Corporatist Joseph Wharton influenced political affairs and 'bought off' congress for his personal benefit.
However, for diverse reasons, northern tyranny would have prevailed over the southern Confederacy: international bankers sided with the North (August Belmont, Rothschild agent in NY). Although southern states also had their own Rothschild "advisors", the Confederacy lost their cotton markets to India; South was agrarian, North, industrialist. Population of the northern states was immensely greater than the southern states, nearly 6-to-1. True, the Washington budget (80%) was largely paid for by protective tariffs by the southern states which undoubtedly the Union sorely missed.
Are we any better off today? Is the 'hoarding' of metal coinages an early hint of impending doom for the sovereign? Will America survive?
If you haven't been warned by your toilet paper rolls having their widths shaved narrower, or a "pound" of bacon being now 12 ounces, you're still in Snoozeville.
It'll be your real savings that'll determine our country's fate. Washington, DC is longer America - you are. Act like it. It's your call.
Indian Cent Became Bronze in 1864
September 28, 2012
Today the lowly cent is an endangered species with increasing calls for its abolition as a circulating coin. Since 1792, when the cent itself was created, there have been several changes to the size and composition of this hardy coin and it will be interesting to see what plays out over the next few months or years. In this essay I will examine the changeover from copper-nickel to bronze that came during the darkest days of the American Civil War.
In 1792 the weight of the cent was set at 264 grains, an interesting comparison to the modern cent, which weighs less than 40 grains. The 1792 cent was pure copper, however, while today’s version has copper merely as a thin shell over a zinc core. The actual copper content of the modern cent is less than 1 grain, which shows the dramatic change that has come about over time. The original 1792 standard soon fell apart due to the rising price of copper and in early 1793 Congress agreed to a new weight, at 208 grains. This meant a reduction of 21 percent, not exactly an auspicious beginning to American coinage for those worried about inflation. This new standard held until December 1795 when it was reduced again, this time to 168 grains; the reason was the same as before, the rising price of copper on the international market.
(Until the early 1840s there was no domestic copper production of any importance. For this reason copper had to be imported and the cent coinage was thereby at the mercy of foreign producers.) The 168-grain standard for the cent remained in place until 1857 when once more the price of copper dictated a change. This time, instead of just lowering the weight, Mint officials pressed for a change in the composition, asking that a copper-nickel cent of 72 grains be adopted. It was 88 percent copper and the rest nickel; there were now only 63.36 grains of copper in the cent. The first Flying Eagle cents were issued in the spring of 1857 and proved extremely popular with the public though not quite so much with banks and businesses, which were inundated with the new coins. There were so many complaints, in fact, that Mint Director James Ross Snowden ordered Chief Engraver James B. Longacre to prepare entirely new designs for both sides, the obverse to feature Liberty in the guise of an Indian chief.
One of the innovations of the copper-nickel cent of 1857 was the fact that the planchets were now made inside the Mint. The old large cent was made of planchets purchased from private companies, both at home and from foreign suppliers. The Mint continued to make its own cent planchets until 1864, when the new standard overwhelmed its ability to prepare all of the necessary blanks.
Although the copper-nickel cent was in widespread use after 1857, this idyllic state of affairs, so far as the Mint was concerned, would not last all that long. The outbreak of the American Civil War in April 1861 was to spell the eventual doom of the copper-nickel alloy for the cent. During the opening year of the war the Northern public continued to believe that the conflict would soon be over and the South returned to the Union within a relatively short time. This public confidence in a quick end to the secession meant that all three coinage metals – gold, silver and copper – circulated in the marketplace without any problems. Towards the end of 1861, however, there were ominous signs that all was not well.
Public resolve in the North cracked in late December 1861 with a sudden run on the banks for gold. The banks in turn suspended specie payments for their bank notes; within days no gold was to be found in daily use. The government responded with fiat paper money, which could not be exchanged for gold or silver. The handwriting was on the wall.
The turn of the silver coinage came in June 1862 when the exchange value of the greenbacks fell to the point that no one was willing to sell silver for the paper money. By early in July silver coins were gone from the marketplace. (Different rules were in effect in California where gold and silver remained in daily use throughout the war.)
Cent coinage during 1861 was essentially normal as there was little pressure on this denomination as was seen on the silver and gold. From the beginning of 1862 cent coinage began to grow, though not in a large volume, and still nowhere near the peak rate established in 1859. The first six months of 1862 saw a monthly average production of about 1.2 million pieces.
Some idea of the lack of urgency in the coinage of late 1861 and early 1862 may be judged from the following figures for cents on hand for distribution at a given point in time: 1861 – August 31st: 420,505; 1862 – January 31st: 737,935; April 30th: 940,379; August 31st: 368 pieces.
In May and June of 1862 the coinage had been sharply increased to meet the expanded demand, but it was not fast enough. As late as July 3, 1862, the Mint presses were still keeping up with the demand, if only on a daily basis with no reserves. An order from a bank received on that day prompted a reply that the coins would be shipped in “a day or two.” In mid July the cent situation became critical and would soon get worse. An order received on July 20 for $50 worth of cents was not shipped until Sept. 12.
Mint Director Pollock used every resource at his command to increase cent coinage in the latter part of 1862. The first six months, a time of little pressure from the public for such coins, saw only 7 million pieces struck and issued. During the last six months of the year a much stronger 21 million cents saw the light of day.
Pollock knew that he was fighting a losing battle and on Dec. 1, 1862, wrote Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase of his concerns. The director noted that the upper limit for cent coinage was 240,000 pieces per day but problems in getting sufficient supplies of nickel meant that some days saw as little as 90,000.
One of the major impediments in the cent coinage had been an over-reliance on nickel produced in the United States. The only nickel mine of importance, although not mentioned by Pollock, was owned and operated by Joseph Wharton in Pennsylvania. This particular mine owner was to prove one of the major stumbling blocks in the changeover to bronze in 1864. Pollock did report to the Treasury that he had been able to purchase increasing amounts of nickel refined in Europe and hoped to expand these purchases in order to lessen his reliance on the Wharton mine.
By early in 1863, due to the failure of the Wharton mine to maintain production, the Mint was getting most of its nickel from European suppliers. It cost nearly $1.75 per pound, meaning that the intrinsic value of 100 nickel cents was now about 60 cents, compared to a more reasonable 48 cents in November 1862.
Even though the official cent coins from the Mint barely circulated and were often hoarded when issued, private initiative stepped in to help out. Millions of the so-called Civil War tokens (CWT) were struck, the hesitant beginning in late 1862 turning into a flood of such pieces by the summer of 1863. The CWT series included pieces issued by merchants as well as the so-called patriotics.
In a last-ditch effort the Mint pulled out all the stops to increase cent coinage. During the first six months of 1863 the presses turned out nearly 27 million pieces. Despite this effort, the average wait time for an order to be filled was four months. This forced merchants to use the private tokens increasingly seen in the marketplace.
Production fell slightly in the latter part of 1863, to 23 million pieces. This was still a respectable number but one which could simply not fill all of the orders pouring in from various part of the country.
By early in 1863 Pollock was openly suggesting that the copper-nickel alloy be abandoned and a new one adopted. In September of that year Pollock arrived at the firm decision that the copper-nickel alloy had to go and be replaced by bronze, which was 95 percent copper and the rest tin and zinc. In a letter of Oct. 1 to the Treasury he also pointed out that nickel was a difficult coinage metal, with a pair of dies averaging only 142,000 pieces. (In 1865 the obverse dies for the bronze cent coinage averaged 385,000.)
Pollock’s annual report for fiscal year 1863, issued in the late fall of that year, pointedly suggested that bronze be used for the cent coinage. Nothing happened despite intense lobbying on Pollock’s part. The director then turned to preparing sample coins in the new alloy and distributing them to key congressmen. (He also worked to get a 2-cent piece in the same alloy.)
On Dec. 8 the director sent samples of his suggested cent in the new alloy to the Treasury as well. The pieces were struck on the 48 grain standard, similar in weight to the private tokens then circulating in the country. The 48 grain figure was arrived at by noting that it was one-tenth of a troy ounce.
The December letter fell on deaf ears so on Jan. 27, 1864, Pollock again wrote the Treasury. This time he asked what had happened to the draft legislation which he and the other Mint officers had worked out and submitted weeks before. In reality little or nothing had been done by the Administration though no one told Pollock of this inconvenient fact.
When Pennsylvania nickel magnate Joseph Wharton learned of the Pollock efforts he was incensed. In mid February 1864 Wharton published a pamphlet denouncing the bronze alloy and asking that the copper-nickel combination be kept. Wharton did bend a little, however, in that he suggested that the weight of the cent could be reduced. Finish reading>> Indian Cent Became Bronze in 1864