Union and Confederate guns fell silent in April 1865, but the civilian population was slow to give up certain behavior acquired during the four years of bloody civil war. No one in the North felt especially charitable toward the South, and few seriously considered rebuilding what industry had existed there before the outbreak of hostilities in 1861.
Specie payments had been suspended by the government in 1862 and peace had not seen the return of silver or gold coins to circulation. Citizens continued to hoard all forms of coinage that contained precious metal, and even copper-nickel cents were set aside for their limited intrinsic value.
During the war the federal government issued series after series of fractional currency. These “shinplasters,” as they were known, rapidly soiled in circulation and were despised by the public. When yet another five-cent i.... (Expand Text)