Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
The William R. Rhodes Center

Postponed - Early American Money Symposium

Rhodes Early American Money Mar 19 20 2020 poster

Thursday, March 19 –
Friday, March 20, 2020

The Rhodes Center for International Economics is pleased to announce a workshop on the history of money in Early America. In colonial British North America and the Early Republic United States, money was not seen as an arbitrary marker of value, but a product of the state used to shape markets and society as a whole. Americans took an experimental approach currency and monetary institutions: the colonies created some of the earliest first state-issued fiat currency, paper notes of widely varying value issued by thousands of banks and other institutions circulated in the Early Republic, and Americans even established and destroyed a national bank on two separate occasions. At the same time, money became the central political issue, through which Americans struggled to determine who had political power, who markets would benefit, and the kind of society they would be. Recently, historians, economists, and political scientists have come to understand money in the same way early Americans understood it. They argue that money is a legal institution created by governments and that can be deployed to create a more democratic and egalitarian society. This workshop takes a historical approach to understand currency at a time when questions about money have once again returned to the center of political debate. It will explore the relationship between money, the state, and society in Early America, and ask how America’s complex and experimental monetary history can inform our contemporary moment. 

Please register here: https://forms.gle/qZFn16u6ktCdcfwi9


Early American Money Symposium
Thursday, March 19 – Friday, March 20, 2020
Sponsored by the William R. Rhodes Center for International Economics and Finance, Brown University

Thursday, March 19th, 2020:

12:00 p.m. — 1:30 p.m. — Opening Roundtable: “Making Money American: The Monetary Regimes of the New United States”
Joukowsky Forum, 111 Thayer Street

Christine Desan, Harvard University
Jane Knodell, University of Vermont
Jeffrey Sklansky, University of Illinois at Chicago

2:00 p.m. — 3:30 p.m. — Session 1: “The Politics of Capital”
Kim Koo Room, Room 328, 111 Thayer Street

Discussant: Seth Rockman, Brown University
Manuel Bautista Gonzalez, Columbia University — “King Cotton and His Mexican Dollars. The Circulation of Mexican Silver Dollars in New Orleans, 1838-1862.”
Sharon Murphy, Providence College — “Monetizing the Enslaved: The Nesbitt Manufacturing Company of South Carolina, 1836-1850”
Dael Norwood, University of Delaware — “Money Often Costs Too Much: The Politics of Money in Americans’ Trade with China”

4:00 p.m. — 5:15 p.m. — Session 2: “Money, Currency, and the State”
Kim Koo Room, Room 328, 111 Thayer Street

Discussant: Jessica Lepler, University of New Hampshire
Ann Daly, Brown University — “The Democratic Machine: Hard Money, Partisan Politics, and Technological Change at the US Mint, 1828-1836”
Josh Greenberg, Commonplace — “Doing the Legal Tender Polka: The Cultural Significance of Greenbacks and National Bank Notes”

Friday, March 20th, 2020:

8:45 a.m. — Coffee
Kim Koo Room, Room 328, 111 Thayer Street

9:00 a.m. — 10:30 a.m. — Session 3: “Sovereign Debt”
Kim Koo Room, Room 328, 111 Thayer Street

Discussant: Benjamin Hein, Brown University
Brendan Greeley, Financial Times — “Despite instructions from the Constitution, the U.S. has become a state-money country”
Ariel Ron, Southern Methodist University, and Sofia Valeonti, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne — “The Money Struggle: Democracy, Depreciation and Taxes in the U.S. Civil War”
David Thomson, Sacred Heart University — “‘Bonds as a 'National Blessing'?: Reassessing the Role of Debt in 19th Century America"

10:45 a.m. — 12:00 p.m. — Session 4: “Money and the New Republic”
Kim Koo Room, Room 328, 111 Thayer Street

Discussant: Mara Caden, University of Chicago
Andrew Edwards, Oxford University — “The Dark Forest: Money, Change and the American Revolution”
Hannah Farber, Columbia University — “Is Six Percent Good? Toward a Cultural History of Return on Investment”