Episode 421: The Birth Of The Dollar Bill


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Two-dollar note from a New York bank

Two-dollar note from a New York bank Museum of the City of New York hide caption

toggle caption Museum of the City of New York

Before the Civil War, there were 8,000 different kinds of money in the United States.

Banks printed their own paper money. And, unlike today, a $1 bill wasn't always worth $1. Sometimes people took the bills at face value. Sometimes they accepted them at a discount (a $1 bill might only be worth 90 cents, say.) Sometimes people rejected certain bills altogether.

On today's show, we figure out how this world worked. And explain how the Civil War — and the Union's need for money — changed everything.

Note: This episode was originally posted last year. Note #2: Starting next week, podcasts will be posted on Wednesday and Friday, rather than on Tuesday and Friday.

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