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Face ValueThe Entwined Histories of Money and Race in America$
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Michael O'Malley

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780226629377

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226629391.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Face Value
University of Chicago Press

Americans have always argued about the nature and character of money. For two centuries, the debates took place between two basic camps, one insisting that money could only be something with “intrinsic value” (for example, gold or silver) and the other claiming that anything could serve as money if all agreed to use it (for example, paper) and that money was a mere symbol of labor. This book traces the history of American thinking about money from the colonial period to the present, examining the various ways people thought about money and focusing on the problem of “race.” It reviews the colonial Atlantic economy and the special conditions that affected the English colonies in North America; discusses how Americans “banked on slavery”; considers the controversy over the greenbacks; describes the career of Emanuel Ninger; and looks at the Federal Reserve System and Franklin D. Roosevelt's gold policies. Finally, the book analyzes some of the accounts of Wall Street in the 1980s.

Keywords:   money, race, colonies, North America, slavery, greenbacks, Emanuel Ninger, Federal Reserve System, gold, Wall Street

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