Acts of Congress 10

The US Congress has passed a number of acts of legislation since 1792 changing the coinage of the United States. I thought it would be interesting to show some of laws that would introduce and eliminate coins throughout the years. Here is a list of some of the bigger acts:

Coinage Act of 1792

Opened the US Mint in Philadelphia.

Made the dollar the unit of money, and the decimal system for US coinage.

Authorized the following coins: Half Cent, Cent, Half Dime (Silver), Dime (Silver), Quarter (Silver), Half Dollar (Silver), Dollar (Silver), Quarter Eagle ($2.50 Gold), Half Eagle ($5 Gold) and Eagle ($10 Gold).

Coinage Act of 1834

Adopted the gold standard by making 1 ounce of gold equal to 16 ounces of silver.

Coinage Act of 1849

Introduced the Gold Dollar and the $20 Double Eagle coins.

Coinage Act of 18571859 Indian Cent

Repealed Foreign Coins as legal tender in the United States.

Eliminated the half cents and reduced the size of the cent.

Coinage Act of 1864

Introduction of the Two Cent Piece and the motto “In God We Trust”.Two Cent

Coinage Act of 1873

Eliminated the Two Cent Piece, Three Cent Silver and the Half Dime.

Stopped production of the Silver Dollar. This hurt farmers and silver miners as the country was moving toward the gold standard.

Introduced the Trade Dollar to exchange with the Far East.

Bland Allison ActMorgan Silver Dollar

The US Treasury would purchase between 2 and 4 million dollars of silver a month from western miners in an attempt to have both a silver and gold standard. They would also be able to produce more Silver Coins (which would become Morgan Dollars). President Rutherford B. Hayes vetoed the bill, but Congress overturned him. Though it passed, the President would only purchase the minimum amount.

Sherman Silver Purchase Act

Originally called the Silver Purchase Act of  1890, the US government would purchase 4.5 million ounces of silver on top of the silver from the Bland Allison Act. This helped the farmers who were deep in debt to pay their debts with cheaper money. People used the silver notes to purchase gold, depleting the gold reserve. Eventually the demand of silver notes greatly reduced, lowering the price of silver and putting people in a panic. As a result, banks failed, businesses closed, unemployment rose and the country went into an economic depression (known as the Panic of 1893). President Grover Cleveland repealed the Act in 1893, but it was too late.

Act of September 26, 1890

To amend section 3510 of the Revised Statues of the United States. Designs of coins can now be changed after 25 years without Congressional approval.

Discontinue mintage of the Three Cent Nickel and the $3 and $1 gold pieces

Gold Reserve Act1933 Double Eagle

In the midst of the Great Depression, in 1933, it was decided to stop producing Just like Gold Coins and certificates and it would be against the law for US citizens to own or trade with gold.

On January 30, 1934, the Gold Reserve Act would require people to return any gold coins or certificates back to the government except for jewelry and collectible coins. It also increased the price of gold from $20.67 to $34 an ounce in an attempt to get foreign investors to sell their gold to the US. This would allow the Federal Reserve to accumulate gold, reduce taxes and over time increase the Gross National Product.

Coinage Act of 1965

The early 1960’s saw a shortage in silver. So, for the first time in US history, dimes and quarters would be clad (copper-nickel), but it was decided to keep silver in the Half Dollar but reduced the content from 90% to 40% for 5 years. Also, mint marks were remove from all coins. Congress decided to put them back in 1968 but on the obverse of coins instead of reverse before 1965.

I Hope this gives you a basic idea of US Coins Throughout the Years

There are other Congressional and Mint laws since 1792, but this at least gives you an introduction of laws that have made and changed US Coins.

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10 thoughts on “Acts of Congress

  • Curtis

    History is so fascinating, I remember my grandma giving me a few old Canadian coins when I was young. I wish I knew what happened to them. It really does show how important our natural resources are. Lucky for us we are quickly moving away from physical money. Good for collecting I bet though.

    • Kevin Post author

      I agree. I was always fascinated with American History. Now, I’m trying to combine it with US Coins. I’ve been learning a lot of history since I started this blog. I hope to continue collecting coins and learning more as I go along.

  • Percy

    Kevin, Great article and some interesting facts. It interesting that the Government was trying to control the money supply for the entire history of the United States not just in the present.

    I’m not so sure how the Coinage Act of 1873 affected the farmers? Do you have more details on that?

    • Kevin Post author

      Before the Coinage Act of 1873, silver and gold currency were the standard in the US. When they passed the act, they stopped producing silver dollars (except the ones they traded with the Far East) because demand in Europe diminished. This put the US under the gold standard. This hurt the silver miners out west who were finding more silver deposits, but the government wouldn’t accept it to make coins. It hurt farmers and businessmen who were already in debt because the dwindling money supply without silver made the government raise interest rates. This act would be one of the factors that started “The Panic of 1873” because people started panicking like they did in 1929 because banks wouldn’t have any money to give out, businesses closed and unemployment rose. The Coinage Act was only part of the Panic of 1873. Inflation from after the Civil War, big fires in Chicago and Boston, and the Franco-Prussian War that would hurt Europe’s economy. This was known as the Great Depression before the one that happened in 1929.

  • Matt's Mom

    Very interesting…you know your coins for sure. The Gold Reserve Act is a strange one. They actually wanted everyone to return their gold to the government? Why did they do this, and I bet a lot of people did not turn theirs in, am I right? Says it was for the good, and it reduces taxes…but still was it necessary?

    • Kevin Post author

      The Gold Reserve Act occurred during the Great Depression. People were hoarding gold more than ever which depleted the government’s reserve. The Act gave the government the opportunity to seize the gold and replenish their reserve and pay people at the current rate of $20.67 per ounce. Of course, many thought this was unconstitutional. Then, they increased the value to $35 per ounce to try to get foreign countries to sell their gold to the US. With the federal gold reserve increasing, the Gross National Product was increasing as well helping end the Great Depression. If they didn’t, the Gross National Product would have kept decreasing putting the US deeper into depression.

      There were people that held back on turning their gold in. The ones caught were arrested in violation of the act.

      By 1975, the US was allowed to sell and trade gold again.

      Hope this helps!

  • Tim

    Interesting article on coin acts.Never knew there were that many acts of congress on the changing of coins.

    I love history. I would like to know more about US history. Your article is unique. I Ilke how you incorporated images along with coin history information.

    I look forward to additional articles like this one.

    Best of luck in the near future.


  • Fay

    Hi Kevin,

    Great information on the history that influenced our coins today. The pictures also provide a bigger picture for me to better understand the changes in the coins. These coins have unique designs that make them memorable. Are the coins in your pictures now worth different from before?

    • Kevin Post author

      I am sure that some of them are worth more now, especially the gold and silver coins. Don’t expect to see the 1933 gold Double Eagle that I included in the post. The government melted most of them but a very few survived and would be worth millions.