Old Hickory

Started by brandm24, January 01, 2022, 03:28:42 PM

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brandm24

Andrew Jackson was the seventh president of the United States serving from 1829 thru 1837. "Old Hickory" was a nickname given to him by the troops he commanded during the War of 1812 against Britain. He was a Major General in the 2nd Division Tennessee Regiment and was instrumental in defending the city of New Orleans against British assault. The nickname was bestowed on him because of the personal regard he held for his troops.

The reverse of the coin is stamped "Specie / Wanted" and is a reference to his opposition to centralized banking. While president, he fought hard to abolish the Second Bank of the United States as he considered any form of government controlled banking to be corrupt and politically motivated. He succeeded in voiding the banks charter in 1832, four years before it was to come up for renewal in 1836.

With the demise of the bank, monetary transactions were often carried out by private banks, many times underfunded. It was his decision to require payment in specie (gold coins) for any private purchase of federal lands. The problem was that many of these banks didn't have sufficient amounts of specie to cover their notes. The cascading effect of so many bank failures, known as broken banks, led to the Panic of 1837 and the beginning of what was known as the "Hard Times." It wasn't until 1843 that the economy would finally recover.

This counterstamped coin can be considered a "Hard Times Token" one of many private issues created to fill the gap in hard currency because of the panic. These HWT's are very similar to the emergency issues seen two decades later during the American Civil War.

I've never seen a counterstamped federal coin that would qualify as as such a token but this certainly does. The images are courtesy of Robert Merchant, the owner of this marvelous piece of early American history.

Bruce
Always Faithful

Figleaf

You keep coming up with great stuff, Bruce.

I was aware of the successful battle against a central bank in the US - the Federal Reserve System is a political compromise that enables those who want to to claim the US has no Central Bank, while it functions as one. I was not aware that there is a connection with the hard times tokens. Now that I know, I can only wonder how someone who saw the consequences of this misguided policy could support it without social media as an excuse. ;)

The position that any government banking is corrupt is extreme and indefensible, but there is a danger of politicising Central Bank decisions. This danger can be mitigated with Central Bank independence, but as long as politicians have a say an appointments, the danger exists (see quite recently the Yellen affair in the US). You only have to know about Mr. Erdogan's bullying of the Turkish Central Bank to know how horrid the consequences can be.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

brandm24

Apparently, Jackson's fears were well founded. Heavy political pressure was applied in an attempt to allow the bank to continue. Even worse, Henry Clay launched a personal vendetta against Jackson...ironically, using bank funds.

Despite Clay's efforts to damage him, Jackson was indeed shortsighted in destroying the central bank instead of attempting to reform it. Interestingly, he had many supporters as everyday blue collar Americans had a deep distrust in government...just as they do today.

By he way, the traces of gold color on the coin's images indicate that it was painted at one time  probably to imitate the color of gold. Specie in the form of gold coins was required to purchase federal land as you may recall.

Bruce
Always Faithful

Figleaf

I was wondering about the alignment of the letters. They are mostly well aligned, except in WANTED. It could be coincidence, but the word now looks like a staircase to me.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

brandm24

Yes, he did pretty well on all the lettering except the word wanted. I don't know what happened there.

I've attached an image of a struck Hard Times token that makes fun of Jackson's stand on the centralized bank. A lot of interesting imagery and comment on the piece.

Bruce
Always Faithful