Sep 11 – 16, 2022
University of Warsaw
Europe/Warsaw timezone

Trading Dollars: International Monetary Conferences and American Monetary Politics

Sep 12, 2022, 3:00 PM
Old Library - Hall 115-116

Old Library - Hall 115-116


Jonah Estess (American University)


The United States issued the Trade Dollar between 1873 and 1885. It became increasingly more competitive in global trade during this period. Congress intended for the new coin to replace the silver dollar, which it demonetized in 1873, as American merchants’ coin of choice while trading in East Asia. Most Trade Dollars, however, circulated domestically. Historians of American money and the state seldom study connections between the Trade Dollar, demonetization, and American participation in the Paris monetary conferences (1868 - 1892). This paper places high global negotiations and empire-building in context with domestic politics and money’s materiality. It argues that global competition to control silver flows met its match in American monetary politics of the late nineteenth century. This collision of business interests and social aspirations created the largest political movement related to the American money question, leaving hopes for a multi-national monetary system unfulfilled until establishment of the Eurozone.

Primary author

Jonah Estess (American University)

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