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Original U.S. Constitution
- Art. I Sec. 8
- [Congress shall have Power ... ] To coin Money, regulate
the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, ...;
- Art. I Sec.
10 Cl. 1
- [No State shall ...] make any Thing but gold and silver
Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; ...
Note that there is no such prohibition against Congress, or
any delegated power to make anything legal tender. Congress was
originally understood to have no power to make anything legal tender
outside of federal territories, under Art. I Sec. 8 Cl. 17
and Art. IV Sec. 3 Cl. 2,
but in 1868 a Supreme Court packed by Pres. Ulysses S. Grant, in the Legal
Tender Cases, allowed Congress to make paper currency issued
by the U.S. Treasury, backed by gold, legal tender on state territory,
a precedent that remains controversial to this day, when courts allow
paper currency not backed by anything to be considered "legal tender".
The only money amount in the Constitution or its amendments is
in the Seventh Amendment:
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall
exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved,
and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any
Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common
In 1789 the "dollar" was a coin, the Spanish taler,
containing 371.25 grains of pure silver, or 416 grains of silver of
standard (coin grade) purity. A troy ounce, the standard measurement
unit for precious metals, is 480 grains, so a "dollar" contains 0.7734
troy ounce of pure silver, and 20 such coins would weigh 17.3333 troy
ounces and contain 15.46875 troy ounces of pure silver. One can use the
Oanda Currency Converter
below to find out what the current value of that amount of bulk silver
would be in federal reserve notes. For example, on June 15, 2000, it
would be about $87.71 in federal reserve notes. However, keep in mind
that the world trading price for gold or silver is the bulk, wholesale
price, for ingots, in minimum quantities of 400 troy ounces, and the
trading is generally only a tranfer of title and not a physical
delivery of the ingots, for which an additional transport charge may be
made. As single coins it would have about twice that bulk value, so the
constitutional threshold under the Eighth Amendment would be closer to
$176 in federal reserve notes. That would be the minimum "value in
controversy" that would preserve the right to trial by jury in a civil
Coinage Act of Apr 2, 1792
Coinage Act of Mar 4, 1900
Defined — Dictionary and statutory definitions of money,
from 1923 Congressional Record — The Federal Reserve and
several large banks deliberately contracted to extend credit to the
agriculture industry for the purpose of eliminating many farmers.
Gold Confiscation Of April 5, 1933 — Unconstitutional act of
Congress and President Roosevelt.
as Debt Quotations — Revealing statements from public figures.
USC 5103, defining legal tender. However, it only constitutionally
applies to non-state U.S. territory, such as federal enclaves created
I Sec. 8 Cl. 17 or incorporated territory under Art. IV
Sec. 3 Cl. 2.
Antebellum Money Cases, including some civil war legal tender cases. Compiled by Larry Becraft.
A Caveat Against Injustice, or An Inquiry into the Evils of a Fluctuating Medium of Exchange, Roger Sherman, 1752. One of the Framers presents his theory of money.
and Economic Freedom, by Alan Greenspan (1966) — Before he
became Chairman of the Federal Reserve he had some strong opinions,
which he has never repudiated.
of Eight, by Edwin Vieira — Comprehensive treatise on money.
Is A "Dollar"? An Historical Analysis Of The Fundamental
Question In Monetary Policy, by Edwin Vieira.
the Constitution: How misconstruction of the monetary powers and
disabilities subverted the Founding Fathers’ intent, speech
of Edwin Vieira before the Rotary Club of New York, March 25th, 2003.
Money Issue, memorandum of law by Larry Becraft.
A Caveat Against Injustice, or, An
Inquiry into the Evils of a Fluctuating Medium of Exchange,
Roger Sherman (1752) — By the author of the Tender Clause of the U.S.
Moneta, Nicholas Oresme, 1484. Translated from
Latin by Charles Johnson — Classic treatise on money and coinage.
The Theory and Practice of Banking, Henry dunning MacLeod, 1892. — Classic treatise on money and banking in the post-feudal, early industrial age.
Money and Civilization, Alexander del Mar, 1867. Early classic treatise.
History of Monetary Systems, Alexander del Mar, 1895. Early classic treatise.
History of Money in America, Alexander del Mar, 1899. Early classic treatise.
Natural Law of Money, William Brough, 1896. Early classic treatise.
Gold and Silver Coinage under the Constitution, U.S. Statutes, 1789-1896.
Legal Tender: A Study in English and American Monetary History, S.P. Breckinridge, 1903.
The First and Second Banks of the United States, John Thom Holdsworth, Davis Dewey, 1910.
State Banking Before the Civil War, Davis Dewey; The Safety Fund Banking System in New York: 1829-1866, Robert Paddock, 1910.
Banking, Control of Money
Converter — Allows you to convert units of any national
currency or precious metal into units of any other, for any date back
Anti-Trust Action Committee (GATA) — Advocate and undertake litigation
against illegal collusion to control the price and supply of gold and
related financial securities..
for Mathematically Perfected Economy — Argues that debt-based currency
leads to economic collapse.
Be The Judge and The Jury — Accusation that the present monetary system
is fundamentally corrupt and unconstitutional.
The following links are provided free for public educational
purposes, and do not represent endorsements of the companies or their
products or services.
Currency — Proposal to base legal tender on units
Currency — Proposal to use digital certificates for currency.
— P2P Virtual Currency.
— Digitally encrypted commodity exchange system, warehouse certificates
that can be used as currency.
Council — The global advocate for gold.
Gold — Gold trading.
— Digital gold currency.
— Gold circulated electronically.
— Documents and links on gold.
— Anonymous digital cash.
— Online clearinghouse for currency exchanges among members.
Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve Act and the Internal
Revenue Code (NORFED) — Support the Liberty
Dollar backed by gold or silver. Currently under unlawful
attack by the federal government.
Also see Tax Matters