Financial History 141 Spring 2022 - Page 25

Forging the US Mint

from the Words of Alexander Hamilton usmint . gov

By Eric Brothers
The coins that numismatists cherish today are the result of the restless intellect and tireless efforts of Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton ( 1757 – 1804 ). He single-handedly embarked upon a financial revolution that has greatly influenced the US economy to this very day . An integral element of that revolution was his “ Report
Artist ’ s rendering of the first US Mint in Philadelphia . Inset : Painting of Alexander Hamilton by Charles Shirreff , circa 1790 , around the time he was working on his “ Report on the Establishment of a Mint .” on the Establishment of a Mint ” ( hereafter ‘ the Report ’), submitted to Congress on January 28 , 1791 , which served as the blueprint for the forging of the US Mint . In essence , his words — his rhetoric — became brick and mortar , offices and machinery , officers , engravers and workers .
Early Plans for US Coinage
Financier Robert Morris put forth in Congress a plan for coinage and a mint in 1782 , though the specifics were formulated by his assistant , Gouverneur Morris . Their plan averaged the currency of 12 states into a unit valued at 1 / 1440th of the Spanish dollar and included coins in the denomination of
5 , 8 , 100 , 500 and 1,000 units . In response to Morris , Thomas Jefferson authored his “ Notes on Coinage ” in 1784 . Employing straightforward language , Jefferson methodically presented the practicality of a decimal coinage , described the flaws in Morris ’ s plan and made suggestions that he hoped would quicken the process of creating a national mint . However , it was not until April 15 , 1790 , that Congress requested Secretary Hamilton prepare a formal plan for establishing a national mint .
Hamilton ’ s Report
Hamilton ’ s Report was an ambitious undertaking . In his introduction , he presented
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