January 4, 1852

cdn-media.nationaljournal

1852

Sunday Jan 4th

Another stormy day and no one been to meeting

Mr Swain called & got some of Harpers Magazines

I have spent the day as I perhaps ought not in looking

over my accounts.  Have been taking off the boys accounts

for the last year and Susans.  Mr Ames gave me

one hundred dollars.  It has been a long dull day

with me  Mr Ames has been in part of the time

Evelina focused on money today, as she “perhaps ought not” to have done. It was Sunday, after all, and reviewing one’s personal account was too much like doing work on the day of rest. But she couldn’t get to church because of the weather, so she found a useful way to spend time in an otherwise “dull” day.

The gift (or allowance?) that Oakes Ames gave Evelina may have provided the impetus to examine the family finances. The $100 was most likely given in the form of specie, or coins. At this period in American finance, gold and silver coins contained their exact value in metal. Thus Evelina would have received precisely $100 in gold or silver, at least for the time being. That equation of value would soon change, as the influx of gold from California was upsetting the market. Gold prices would go down and silver would go up.

Paper money at this time was limited to bank notes, and the government-issued $100 “greenback” in the illustration above would only come into existence during the Civil War, when the U.S. needed to generate cash to fund the Union Army.  That $100 bill, controversial in its day, laid the foundation for a permanent U. S. currency not based on a silver or gold standard.

 

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