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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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A Bank in Human Form

A Bank in Human Form

Fort Knox and Phantom Gold

Chapter:
(p.162) Chapter Five A Bank in Human Form
Source:
Face Value
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226629391.003.0006

The establishment of the Federal Reserve System in 1913 dramatically changed the debate over money in America. The crude racial language surrounding money faded after the Fed moved the subject of money out of the realm of popular politics and into the domain of experts. Although white supremacy remained connected to the gold standard, this link was weakened by the new era of managed money. The white supremacist consensus that began in the Jim Crow era also ended in the twentieth century, to be replaced by the modern civil rights movement. The end of the gold standard opened up some new discursive possibilities about value, character, and where they originated. This chapter examines how Americans remade and redefined money during the twentieth century, focusing on Franklin D. Roosevelt's gold policies and the way he used the newly constructed Gold Bullion Depository at Fort Knox to suggest the idea of a gold standard even as he moved away from gold as money. It also assesses the relationship between a managed, fiat currency and racial equality.

Keywords:   Federal Reserve System, money, white supremacy, civil rights movement, gold standard, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Gold Bullion Depository, Fort Knox, racial equality, currency

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