A History of American Currency By William Graham Sumner


In 1874, admist a debate about the future of the American monetary system, William Graham Sumner offered this analysis of the history of paper money in the United States.

He tells us that the English government wouldn’t allow the early British settlers to bring money with them to America. The settlers used the Native American wampumpeag to trade until they developed stable currency systems of their own. Along the way, paper currencies arose and catastrophe was always soon to follow.

Sumner’s lesson is that paper currency has always lead to crises and possible hyperinflation. Nothing good has ever come out of a paper-money experiment in America. Sound money is the only answer in a free society.

A History of American Currency should be included on the reading list of every student of monetary history. In many ways, we can see that Sumner was an early believer in the ideas of Austrian Economics that would soon follow.

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  •  Jeffrey Tucker

    History of American Currency

    History of American Currency by William Graham Sumner William Graham Sumner was an unusual sociologist in that he understood the centrality of money in the story of American civilization. He was a hard money man because he valued the freedom of the individual. His history takes us up to the reinstitution of the gold standard in the late 19th century, but his story of fiat money and nationalized banking is one of the best ever written. Sociologists don’t think like this anymore. Kick off the discussion! Questions, comments, observations or elaborations? Either reply here or create a new discussion using the tag Library_History of American Currency

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