United States Currency

By SJobe
  • Colonial Notes

    Colonial Notes
    In the early days of this nation, before and just after the American Revolution, Americans used English, Spanish, and French currencies. The Massachusetts Bay Colony issued the first paper money in the colonies that would later form the United States.
  • Period: to

    United States Currency

  • Continental Currency

    Continental Currency
    American colonists issued paper currency for the Continental Congress to finance the Revolutionary War. The notes were backed by the “anticipation” of tax revenues. Without solid backing and because they were easily counterfeited, the notes quickly became devalued, giving rise to the phrase “not worth a Continental.”
  • The Nation's First Bank

    The Nation's First Bank
    The Continental Congress chartered the Bank of North America in Philadelphia as the nation's first “real” bank to give further financial support to the Revolutionary War. Robert Morris, a Philadelphia businessman decided to form the first bank. He petitioned the Continental Congress for authorization and gained a charter on December 31, 1781. Morris' goal was to satisfy the financial needs of our national government, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia merchants.
  • The Dollar

    The Dollar
    On July 6, 1785, the dollar was adopted as the monetary unit of the United States.The adoption of the dollar began in 1782 when Thomas Jefferson suggested the U.S. adopt the dollar because the thaler was already circulating in many areas in the Spanish and British colonies of North America. At that time, private bank-note companies printed a variety of notes.
  • U.S. Chartered the First Bank

    U.S. Chartered the First Bank
    In February, the First Bank of the United States received a unique national charter for twenty years.The Bank prospered for twenty years and performed traditional banking functions in exemplary fashion. With a main office in Philadelphia and eight branches nationwide to serve its customers, the Bank's influence stretched along the entire Atlantic seaboard from Boston to Charleston and Savannah and westward along the Gulf Coast to New Orleans.
  • U.S. Mint

    U.S. Mint
    On April 2, 1792, Congress passed The Coinage Act, which created the Mint and authorized construction of a Mint building in the nation's capitol, Philadelphia. This was the first federal building erected under the Constitution.
    The Federal Monetary System was established with the creation of the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia. The first American coins were struck in 1793.
  • Second U.S. Bank

    Second U.S. Bank
    The Second Bank of the U.S. was chartered in 1816 with the same responsibilities and powers as the First Bank. However, the Second Bank would not even enjoy the limited success of the First Bank. Although foreign ownership was not a problem (foreigners owned about 20% of the Bank's stock), the Second Bank was plagued with poor management and outright fraud.
  • State Bank Notes

    State Bank Notes
    With minimum regulation, a proliferation of 1,600 state-chartered, private banks issued paper money. State bank notes, with over 30,000 varieties of color and design, were easily counterfeited, which combined with bank failures to cause confusion and circulation problems.
  • Civil War

    Civil War
    On the brink of bankruptcy and pressed to finance the Civil War, Congress authorized the United States Treasury to issue paper money for the first time in the form of non-interest bearing Treasury Notes called Demand Notes. The Civil War created a coinage shortage, so the first official paper currency of the United States entered circulation. They were called Demand Notes and came in $5, $10, and $20 increments printed in 1861.
  • Greenbacks

    Demand Notes were replaced by United States Notes. Commonly called “greenbacks” because of the green tint introduced to discourage photographic counterfeiting, they were last issued in 1971. The Secretary of the Treasury was empowered by Congress to have notes engraved and printed by private bank note companies. The notes were signed and affixed with seals by six Treasury Department employees.
  • The Design

    The Design
    The design of U.S. currency incorporated a Treasury seal, the fine-line engraving necessary for the difficult-to-counterfeit intaglio printing, intricate geometric lathe work patterns, and distinctive cotton and linen paper with embedded red and blue fibers.
  • Gold Certificates/ Secret Service

    Gold Certificates/ Secret Service
    Gold Certificates were issued by the Department of the Treasury against gold coin and bullion deposits and were circulated until 1933. The Department of the Treasury established the United States Secret Service to control counterfeiting. At that time, one-third of all circulating currency was estimated to be counterfeit.
  • National Bank Notes

    National Bank Notes
    National Bank Notes, backed by U.S. government securities, became predominant. By this time, 75 percent of bank deposits were held by nationally chartered banks. As State Bank Notes were replaced, the value of currency stabilized for a time.
  • Bureau of Engraving and Printing

    Bureau of Engraving and Printing
    The Department of the Treasury's Bureau of Engraving and Printing started printing all U.S. currency.
  • Silver Certificates

    Silver Certificates
    In accordance with an Act of Congress, dated February 28, 1878, the Department of the Treasury issued to the public Silver Certificates which could be exchanged for silver dollars. On March 25, 1964, the Secretary of the Treasury announced that Silver Certificates would no longer be redeemable for silver dollars.Even though Silver Certificates are no longer printed, those which remain outstanding are still legal tender and can be spent just like a Federal Reserve Note.
  • Federal Reserve Act

    Federal Reserve Act
    After the 1893 and 1907 financial panics, the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 was passed. It created the Federal Reserve System as the nation's central bank to regulate the flow of money and credit for economic stability and growth. The System was authorized to issue Federal Reserve Notes. Now the only U.S. currency produced, Federal Reserve Notes represent 99 percent of all currency in circulation.
  • Standardized Design

    Standardized Design
    Currency was reduced in size by 25 percent, and a consistent design was introduced with uniform portraits on the front and emblems and monuments on the back.
  • In God We Trust

    In God We Trust
    On October 1, 1957, new one-dollar silver certificates were issued inscribed with “In God We Trust”, the first United States paper currency to bear the motto declaring the nation’s faith in a providential God. The inscription appears on all currency Series 1963 and later.
  • Security Thread and Microprinting

    Security Thread and Microprinting
    A security thread and microprinting were introduced to deter counterfeiting by advanced copiers and printers. The features first appeared in Series 1990 $100, $50 and the $20 notes. By Series 1993, the features appeared in all denominations except $1 notes.
  • Currency Redesign

    Currency Redesign
    The Secretary of the Treasury announced that U.S. currency would be redesigned to incorporate a new series of counterfeit deterrents. The newly designed $100 was introduced in 1996, the $50 in 1997, and the $20 in 1998. The new $50 was the first to incorporate a low-vision feature, a large dark numeral on a light background on the lower right corner of the back, to help people with low vision identify the denomination.
  • 50 State Quarters Program Act

    50 State Quarters Program Act
    The program ran from 1999 until 2008, with five new quarters released every year over ten years. The 50 new quarters featured a design that honors each state's unique history and tradition. The quarters were released in the order that the states joined the union.
  • Redesign of $5 and $10 bills

    Redesign of $5 and $10 bills
    The U.S. Treasury introduced redesigned $5 and $10 bills to make counterfeiting more difficult. The new notes feature oversized pictures of Abraham Lincoln and Alexander Hamilton that are slightly off-center. Other anti-counterfeiting measures include watermarks that can be seen under a light, security threads that glow when exposed to ultraviolet light and tiny printing that’s visible with the help of a magnifying glass.