Confederate States Paper Money Series Part I: A Nation Divided Leads To War

American history falls dark during a number of time periods. A lot of these traumatic time periods link itself to war and depression and the integral parts that lead up to such dreadful human suffering. One of the most incomprehensible of those events took place on United States soil between a very divided American people: the American Civil War.

To this day, the Civil War was responsible for the highest American casualty total of any conflict with over 620,000 Union and Confederate soldiers falling at the hands of each other. Dating back to the late 1850s, the North and the South’s growing conflict in regards to slavery had Southern leadership in discussions to separate themselves from the country as a whole.

The slave states made threats of secession prior to President Abraham Lincoln and the anti-slavery party’s presidential victory over the Democratic Party. By 1860 after Lincoln was elected, South Carolina wasted no time with the secession process as ten other states eventually followed suit: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. They called themselves the ‘Confederate States of America’ as thus began the need for forts, arsenals, and other strategic locations throughout the South.

It was not until April 12, 1861, that the snowball effect into the Civil War began as the battle at Fort Sumter in Charleston Bay set in motion the bloodiest four years in American history. The Confederate army opened fire and claimed the fort as their own, forcing the American flag to be lowered in defeat. By May 1861, Richmond was named the capital and by November of that same year, Jefferson Davis was elected President of the Confederate States.

As a result of the secession and the southern states being blockaded and cut off from a majority of the world, foreign trade was nearly impossible and the war was in dire need of being financed. Confederate currency was then born as United States coinage was being hoarded and paper money printing commenced. Before it was all said and done, there were 72 major issues of Confederate paper money from 1861-1864.

Source:; Paper Money of the United States by Arthur L. & Ira S. Friedberg;