Diamonds

THE MONETARY SYSTEM OF THE UNITED STATES HAS BEEN, throughout its history, constructed more by expedient and accident than by calculation and foresight. In this characteristic it parallels the monetary history of the world. The earliest settlers of British North America had little immediate use for coined money. Their modest commerce could be carried out quite satisfactorily by the barter of agricultural products, beaver skins, tobacco, musket balls, Indian wampum, etc.’ But as soon as the population grew larger and stable enough to support the rudimefits of urban civilization, the need for a more effective money mechanism became acutely apparent. Traders arriving from Europe began demanding coined money for the manufactured goods they brought. In turn, the colonists readily accepted and used nearly all foreign coins that came to them in the course of their own expanding commerce. The French Louis, English guineas, German thalers, Dutch ducats, Portuguese moidores and, most predominant of all, Spanish milled silver dollars, or “pieces of eight,’ eventually became integral parts of the colonial money system.