Chain Cent (1793)
In 1793, democracy was still a struggling and unproven form of government. In France, the revolution that erupted with such force four years earlier began the year with the beheading of Louis XVI, and that country's struggle with democracy degenerated into near anarchy with the Reign of Terror. Meanwhile, the fledgling U.S. was trying to establish its place among the sovereign nations of the world. One of the issues receiving President Washington's attention was the necessity for a solid and respectable system of coinage. To that end, he and his wife Martha donated $75 worth of silver tableware, and the famous half dismes of 1792 were struck, making "a small beginning" toward coinage, as he stated in his Annual Address in November 1792.
A case can be made that the 1792 half dismes, the silver-center cents, or the Birch cents were t.... (Expand Text)