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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Gabriel Johnston to the Board of Trade of Great Britain, including a report concerning currency in North Carolina
Johnston, Gabriel, ca. 1698-1752
January 14, 1741
Volume 04, Pages 575-577

[B. P. R. O. North Carolina. B. T. Vol. 11. B. 53.]

My Lords [of the Board of Trade]

Thō I am sensible that the enclosed account of our Currency will come a great deal too late for the reasons I have mentioned in my last of Dec: 12, I yet think it my duty to send it that your Lordships may see that any delays either in receiving or answering letters are owing entirely to the situation of the Country and not to any neglect in me.

I must further take the opportunity to acquaint you that Robert Halton Esqre member of Council has my leave to be absent for one year, he having the command of one of the four companies which went to Jamaica from this place William Forbes and James Murray Esqrs are admitted members of his Majesties Council the former upon a Mandamus from the Lords of the Regency, and the latter upon information from your Lordships that he was appointed by his Majesty there remains only two vacancies now the one occasioned by Eyens Esqre put in by Mr Burrington who never was here and the other by the death of Edmund Porter Esqre

I am my Lords, &c.,

Edenton Janry 14th 1741

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North Carolina.

An Account of the State of the paper currency of North Carolina from the first emission of any Bills of Credit to the year 1740.

1712. The first emission of any paper currency in the Province of North Carolina was in the year 1712 at which time the Trade of it was carried on chiefly by barter (for want of a silver or gold medium) and the commodities so changed generally reckoned of proclamation standard.

To defray the charges of an Indian War then kindled the Assembly passed an act for emitting the sum of £4000 in paper currency supposed to be equal in value to so much proclamation money and past as such for some small time.

1713. The charges of the Government increasing by the continuance of the war another emission was made of £8000 which made the sum of £12000, and was this year partly sunk by a tax on the Inhabitants.

This last emission depreciated the value of the whole about 40 per cent.

1714. This year an additional sum of £24000 was emitted by an act for paying the remaining part of the debts of the Government and for sinking the remaining part of the sum of £12000.

1715. The above act was continued and althō from that time to the year 1722 several Sums were sunk out of the currency then subsisting yet the bills were depreciated nigh 8 per cent from the vallue of their first emission.

1722. There not appearing to be more than £12000 paper bills current in this Province and those defac'd and torn. An Act past for making the sum of £12000 for exchanging such of the paper bills as were then current &c:

From this year to 1729 the above sum subsisted and generally past current at the proportion of five for one sterling

1729. An Act past the Assembly for making and emitting the sum of £40000 paper bills of credit £10000 was appropriated to exchange as much of the old currency (£2000 of which being then supposed to be lost) and the other £30000 let out on land security for fifteen years at the rate of 6s 4d per cent interest together with one fifteenth part of the principal to be annually paid to the Treasurer which Interest and principal was to be sunk as the payments should be made and the whole by that calculation to be sunk in 15 years.

1734. There being a large Quit rent due to the Crown as well as a considerable tax to be levied for the contingent charges of the Government since the year 1729. And it being apprehended that the sinking the paper bills according to the last mentioned act would be a great hardship and inconvenience to the Inhabitants for want of a sufficient currency

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to discharge his Majesties rents. and other necessary charges of the Government. An act past the 1st day of March 1734 entituled an act for stamping and exchanging the present bills of currency wherein further time was given for the sinking the said sum of £40000 till the law by which it was emitted should expire.

At the same time another law past for making the sum of £1250 additional currency to be sunk by a Tax and Duty upon liquors in 5 years. so that There is now subsisting in this Province the sum of £52500 bills of credit. The difference between sterling and the said bills has been adjudged for these four years past to be as ten for one and is so paid and received at this time which is at the rate of 52s 4d paper currency for an ounce of silver.