Shin Plaster

The sunrise was concealed when General Washington emerged from his tent.

Things were looking up though.

The British fleet had just been destroyed and the secrecy of his army’s location at Williamsburg was intact. Soon, the combined French and Continental forces would strike a fatal blow to Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown. But he was still concerned, and it showed.

The Marquis de Lafayette noticed Washington looking over his troops and approached him casually.

“Rainy skies today, oui?"

“It appears,” Washington said without taking his eyes off the waking army, “but not because of the dark clouds. Look, see those soldiers stuffing their boots?”

Lafayette squinted, “Ah, oui. What is that?”

“That’s their pay they received in Philadelphia a few weeks ago,” Washington sighed, “Continentals. Based on nothing. Worthless, and they know it. They call it “shin plaster”, they use it to keep their feet dry. Our monetary system will have to be fixed, my friend, when this is over.”

Eight years later, President Washington authorized the First Bank of the United States to print money, explicitly backed by gold and silver as mandated in Article I, section 10 of the new Constitution.

Within twenty years though, trouble was already looming again on the economic horizon. Thomas Jefferson was one of the first to comment on it, “If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”

On September 15th, 2008, exactly two hundred and twenty seven years after Washington watched his troops stuffing their boots in Williamsburg, and thirty-seven years after abandoning the "gold standard", it all came crashing down.

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