Unknown Stories fo WNY: Father of the Greenback

The story of E.G. Spaulding gave the nation paper money.

BUFFALO, NY - In the early days of the Civil War the Union found one of it's biggest enemies, after the Confederacy, was the economy. The Civil war was breaking the U.S. Treasury, it was going broke. Much of the reason for that was the form of currency being used. Forest Lawn Researcher Patrick Kavanagh explains "the government had to pay off their debts in gold and silver and it was being depleted rather quickly."

In steps a Buffalonian with a grand idea. Elbridge Spaulding was born in central New York but moved to the Queen City to become a law clerk  in 1834 at the age of 25. He excelled, Spaulding was elected City Clerk, then Mayor, he was elected to the State Assembly, and the Congress, he even served as New York State Treasurer at one point. But it was not an elected office that made him a hero, it was a bright idea, a bright green idea.

It was E.G. Spaulding who came up with the idea of paper currency as legal tender. He was the author of the legal tender act in 1862, which would change the way  the government would pay off their debts.This took the pressure off the treasury and prevented huge tax increases.

It created the green money we know today, and a nickname for Spaulding, "The Father of the Greenback."

© 2017 WGRZ-TV


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