Counterfeiting Money In The Usa Essay

1045 words - 4 pages

Counterfeiting money in the United States has been going on since the very beginning of the nation. The craft can be traced back to men in Europe who counterfeited coins and then brought their art to the New World. Records will prove that colonial Americans were arrested for reproducing counterfeit money or spending it. Replicating coins was a laborious task, but fortunately for counterfeiters it was facilitated with the presentation of paper money. Close to the period of the American Revolution, a shift from coins to paper money occurred for counterfeiters. Paper money was first printed in 1775 at the beginning of the Revolutionary War. Although the colonies were mostly reliant on gold coins, the utilization of paper currency had become an increasingly more common practice. This innovative paper money was lighter and easier to carry. The primary reason for switching medians of currency was not to prevent counterfeiters, but instead simply for consumer convenience. Over the ages the government became weary of these counterfeiters and further developed money in order to prevent the creation of imitation bills, but as money evolved so did the counterfeiters. Counterfeiting remains a viable crime regardless of the security measures and technology created to prevent it.
In 1716 security measures were low and counterfeiting was still an arduous task. An infamous imitator named Mary Peck Butterworth was prominent in Rhode Island. Rather than using the common method with metal plates, “Butterworth used starched cotton cloths to produce counterfeit bills.” With the aid of a slightly dampened piece of starched cloth she could lift the ink from a genuine bill. Then with a hot iron, she moved the pattern from the cloth to a blank paper bill and inked the pattern by hand with quill pens. This crime left no real evidence because the original cloth would be burned and reduced to ashes. Butterworth organized her counterfeiting operation into a cottage industry, sternly overseeing the work of the entire family. At her peak, she was selling counterfeit bills at half their face value. However, in 1723, authorities searched her house for evidence of counterfeiting. She spent a one night in the Bristol jail but the authorities find nothing linking her undoubtedly to a counterfeiting operation. The case was given to a grand jury, but with no evidence and no witnesses, the grand jury refused to indict her and the charges were dropped (Rada).
The government was aware of counterfeiting but believed they had enough security measures to ensure that counterfeiting remained at a minimum. North Carolina, which had no printers at the time, issued a handwritten note. The bill was drawn in a book of blank pages and then cut from the book. The edges were heavily decorated and the signatures of officials were added. Suspicious notes could be compared to the hole in the book and matched to edge marks and numbers. Benjamin Franklin was an advocate of a...

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