Monday, February 02, 2009

"Shinsplints" and the Canton Resolutions

Jonathan H. Earle explains that, during the 1820s and into the 1830s, the relatively isolated and economically tenuous counties comprising the Passed-Over District in New York State (see the map at the top of my last post) became bastions of hard-money, anti-Bank, anti-monopoly Democracy:
Upstate hard-money ideologues represented the radical fringe of the state Democratic Party, at least on economic issues. Regency radicals in St. Lawrence County [Silas Wright’s home county, in the far north by the Canadian border], for example, vociferously blamed the Bank of the United States and paper currency for ruining farmers there in 1834, as the central bank called in its loans and caused a sharp panic in the countryside. Notes issued by local banks quickly became known as “shinplaster” – worth less than the paper they were printed on. In the wake of this panic, Wright’s North Country protégé Preston King authored a series of radical resolutions in 1834 [known as the Canton Resolutions] . . . calling for the immediate abolition of all bank notes less than $20 . . . in order to give “the yeomanry of the land a reacquaintance with constitutional hard money currency” and put an end to the “immense moneyed power [able] to oppress the common man . . ..”

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