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    Description

    [Continental Currency]. Period Fair Copy of a Benjamin Franklin Letter to Thomas Ruston. Three pages, 7.75" x 12.5", n. p. [Passy, near Paris], October 9, 1780, to Dr. Thomas Ruston thanking him for his input on the financial situation in America. The end of the letter bears the following, in pencil: "Benjamin Franklin/Copy made by Dr. Thos. A Ruston." Light marginal toning with some separation of the folds at the edges.

    More Information:

    The letter reads, in part:

    "I received and read...your thoughts on American Finance, and your scheme of a Bank...I shall forward them to a Friend in the Congress. That Body is, as you well suppose, not well skilled in Financing...They issued an immense quantity of paper Bills, to pay, Clothe, arm and feed their troops, and fit out ships, and with this paper, without Taxes for the first three years, they fought and baffled one of the most powerful Nations of Europe. They hoped...to have kept up the value of this paper. In this they were mistaken. It depreciated gradually. But this depreciation...has had the general good and great Effect of operating as a Tax, and perhaps the most equal of all Taxes, since it depreciated in the hands of the holders of the Money, and thereby taxed them in proportion to the sums they held...Thus...the paper is reduced to about a sixtieth part of its original value. Having issued 200 Million Dollars, the Congress stopt [sic], and supplied themselves by borrowing...And now they are working with new paper...equal in value to Silver, which they have made to bear interest...In the meantime, the rigours of their Military operations is again revived, and they are now as able, with respect to money, to carry on the war...and much more so with regard to troops, Arms, and Discipline."

    By March 1780, Congress realized that printing more money would be a waste of time. Since the beginning of the war, Congress had issued $241 million in paper money (continentals) while the individual states had issued an additional $209 million of their own. Counterfeit bills by individual American citizens, as well as the British, also totaled in the millions. States were ordered to levy taxes payable in paper or coin to retire the continentals, which were all but worthless, from circulation. Franklin, however, had promoted the continental, calling it a "wonderful machine" because it had supplied the army and paid the troops, served as an equitable tax, and, through depreciation, they paid themselves off.



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    Auction Dates
    October, 2012
    4th-5th Thursday-Friday
    Internet/Mail Bids: 10
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 650

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