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Depreciation, Inflation and Taxation
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[REVOLUTIONARY WAR]. Newspaper. The Pennsylvania Packet or the General Advertiser, John Dunlap: Philadelphia, Pa., July 15, 1779. 4 pp., 10½ x 16½ in., untrimmed.

Inventory #21556.04       ON HOLD

The front page prints a lengthy letter from “A Farmer of  Virginia” on inflation, taxation, and monetary policy. 


“There are three principal causes of the depreciation of our paper-currency.  First, the great quantity in circulation.  Second, the want of confidence in the will and ability of the States to redeem it by taxes and specie.  Third, the deranged State of the public business, and the want of effectual laws for regulating the conduct of, an bringing to account, all such as are employed in the service of the public....I shall endeavor to shew by what methods the quantity in circulation may be lessened, and the value restored, without violating the public faith or oppressing the citizens of these United States.

            The paper-money of these States differs from that of any country in Europe, because the principle on which it is emitted is different. The principle is taxation; and if it be not duly applied, the quantity must encrease according to the exigencies of the States, and the credit or value will be diminished in proportion as the quantity emitted exceeds the sum necessary for a circulating medium. This will generally be ascertained by comparing the price of commodities purchased with paper-money, to that which shall be purchased with specie. Taxation, then, being the principle on which the paper money was emitted, if it had been applied when the depreciation commenced, it would most certainly have produced a remedy for the evil. This would have prevented the enormity of the public debt. (p. 1, col. 1-3)

Also on the front page: an advertisement for “Good Bohea Tea” sold by Jewish merchant Benjamin Seixas, who had relocated to Philadelphia from New York during the British occupation. (p.1, col.3)

This issue also contains a letter from George Washington responding to Doctor John Morgan, who was in the process of a very public vindication.  “No fault, I believe, ever was or could be found with the economy of the Hospitals, during your Directorship. Things in the first stage of the war were plentiful and cheap, and I am inclined to think, that you contributed as much as lay in your power, to provide at the lowest rates...” (p.2, col.1)

As well as the protests of the “tanners, curriers, and cordswainers of the city” in response to inflation: “The depreciation of our currency is a fact so notorious, that the cause of America can receive no injury from mentioning it in the course of the observations we are about to make.... For many years preceding the issuing of the present currency, the prices of skins, leather, and shoes were so proportioned to each other as to leave the tradesmen a bare living profit....The prices of leather and shoes continued the same as formerly until the depreciation of the currency had made considerable progress, nor did we advance our price until the increased expence of almost every other article of consumption rendered it absolutely necessary, and then we kept a great distance behind many other tradesmen, and infinitely almost behind the advance on foreign articles. Thus, in the beginning of 1777, when money had depreciated, or, which is the same thing, goods had risen for the most part to three and four prices, our commodities had advanced scarcely two prices....Having thus stated our ideas of this matter for your consideration, we think ourselves justified before the world in declaring, that we do not consider ourselves bound by the regulated prices of our commodities, and we shall not observe them until a general regulation of all other articles shall take place, by common consent.” (p. 2 col. 2-3, p. 3, col. 1)

Along with other reports of the war.  “We have been twice out after the enemy’s fleet, but can’t bring them to action.  On our passage to this port, in company with the Carrisfort, we fell in with a fleet from St. Eustaria, under convoy of one fifty, one forty, one thirty -two, and one twenty gunships, who chased us one day…” (p.3 col.1).

And the usual period advertisements.

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