Reply To: On the Revolution and the "Civil War"


Benjamin Franklin, who was in a position to know, did not blame British counterfeiting for the fall in the value of the Continental. He blamed American politicians:

“I received your valuable letter by the Marquis de Lafayette, and another by Mr. Bradford. I can only write a few words in answer to the latter, the former not being at hand. The depreciation of our money must, as you observe, greatly affect salary men, widows, and orphans. Methinks this evil deserves the attention of the several legislatures, and ought, if possible, to be remedied by some equitable law, particularly adapted to their circumstances. I took all the pains I could in Congress to prevent the depreciation, by proposing first, that the bills should bear interest; this was rejected, and they were struck as you see them. Secondly, after the first emission, I proposed that we should stop, strike no more, but borrow on interest those we had issued. This was not then approved of, and more bills were issued. When, from the too great quantity, they began to depreciate, we agreed to borrow on interest; and I proposed, that, in order to fix the value of the principal, the interest should be promised in hard dollars. This was objected to as impracticable; but I still continue of opinion, that, by sending out cargoes to purchase it, we might have brought in money sufficient for that purpose, as we brought in powder, &,c. &,c.; and that, though the attempt must have been attended with a disadvantage, the loss would have been a less mischief than any measure attending the discredit of the bills, which threatens to take out of our hands the great instrument of our defence.”