On The Money: A History of American Currency

BackStory

“The Almightier,” illustration from Puck, May 15th, 1907 (Library of Congress).

“The Almightier,” illustration from Puck, May 15th, 1907 (Library of Congress).

There’s a lot of talk about Bitcoin these days—the digital currency that’s been gaining ground. Bitcoin allows online payments to be made person-to-person, instead of via a bank, and sidesteps government involvement, too. Is it a more democratic approach to financial exchanges? Could it be “the future” of money? Brian, Ed, and Peter look to American history for answers.

In this episode, BackStory unpacks America’s relationship with money, exploring the transformations of currency over the centuries. The Guys and their guests discuss the profusion of currencies in the past, considering how Americans decided which ones to trust—and which were only flashes-in-the-pan. From Continental Dollars at the Founding, to Greenbacks and “Greybacks” during the Civil War; from the gold and silver crises of the Gilded Age, to the new Federal Reserve notes of the 20th century—this episode considers the many ways money has shaped, and been shaped by, America’s politics, economy, and society.

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