Dec

11

 The City of London merchants had been complaining for years that the colonies wanted to have their cake and eat it, too, when it came to money and credit. They wanted the City and the Crown's colonial governors to expand the ability of the colonial merchants and landowners to issue their own bills, to allow the colonies' own courts to decide all commercial disputes and to allow Gresham's law to always work in their favor - i.e. to get prices in sterling but pay debts in script.

By 1751 New England's practices had become so egregious that the Crown abolished their rights to issue paper that the law would recognize as legal tender. But throughout the 1750s the political majority in Virginia under John Robinson, who served as both Treasurer and Speaker of the House had been practicing modern finance at its very best. Virginia had been issuing notes to pay its bills that were secured by that year's anticipated tax receipts. The notes themselves could be tendered in payment of taxes. The notes themselves were supposed to be cancelled when collected; but Speaker Robinson was alleged to have reissued the notes to his friends and cronies.

The "radicals" (sic) in the Virginia House led by Richard Henry Lee demanded that the accounts be audited. Robinson refused, the appointed his own auditors who declared that everything was fine, just fine. Since these notes were also legal tender as far as payment of private debts were concerned, the members of the Board of Trade and other English creditors became incensed. They demanded that all Virginia's legal tender currency be abolished. The Act of 1764 was the compromise; it did not touch Robinson's outstanding notes, but it did stop the printing presses.

Any suggestion that these events have a current parallel is as dumb as the notion that a private association with monopoly authority over the country's legal tender should be subject to regular and full disclosure of its accounts.


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