American Revolution - Highlights - AMERICA'S FIRST DOLLARS

AMERICA'S FIRST DOLLARS (Illustration) American History Famous Historical Events Government Revolutionary Wars Law and Politics Social Studies American Revolution

This image depicts a 12-shilling (12s) note issued by the “Province” of New Jersey a few months before the Thirteen Colonies declared their independence from Britain. (Note the reference to “His Majesty King George the Third.”) The original currency is maintained by the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution.


As soon as Congress approved the Declaration of Independence, John Hancock wrote a letter to George Washington enclosing a copy of the Declaration. It was important for the Commander-in-Chief to know the American colonies were formally separated from Great Britain.

It was also important for the people to know. The Declaration was read to a crowd, soon after it was approved, and the text was printed immediately. (Follow this link to view one of the earliest printings.)

By the 8th of July, it was the lead story in one of the most influential colonial papers: Dunlap's Pennsylvania Packet. On July 18, 1776 - six years after the Boston Massacre - citizens of Boston heard the Declaration read at the very place where fighting had once caused loss of life.

While George III had prevented the colonies from printing their own money, Congress could now disregard the Currency Act of 1764. The British Parliament no longer governed Americans, and the King was no longer their soverign.

Three weeks after the Declaration of Independence was signed, "The United Colonies" issued the country's first dollars:

  • The Three Dollar Bill, issued on July 22, 1776, has an interesting emblem: An eagle fighting a heron with the motto Exitus in dubio est ("the outcome is in doubt").
  • The emblem on the Seven Dollar Bill is more positive:  A storm at sea with the motto Serenabit ("it will clear up").
  • The Thirty Dollar Bill hints at ultimate triumph:  A wreath on a tomb with the words Si recte facies ("if you act righteously").

Of course, as far as George III was concerned, the new dollar bills violated the law while the Declaration was a worthless piece of paper whose signers were guilty of treason. His Majesty would not give in.

The war would drag on for many more years.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: May 05, 2016

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"AMERICA'S FIRST DOLLARS" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Feb 27, 2020.
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