(redirected from Greenbacks)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Financial, Idioms.


in U.S. history, legal tender notes unsecured by specie (coin). In 1862, under the exigencies of the Civil War, the U.S. government first issued legal tender notes (popularly called greenbacks) that were placed on a par with notes backed by specie. By the end of the war such notes were outstanding to the amount of more than $450 million. They had been issued as temporary, and in accordance with the Funding Act of 1866 Secretary of State Hugh McCullochMcCulloch, Hugh
, 1808–95, American financier and public official, b. Kennebunk, Maine. Educated at Bowdoin College, he studied law in Boston and practiced two years at Fort Wayne, Ind.
..... Click the link for more information.
 began retiring them. The hard times of 1867 caused many, especially among Western debtor farmers, to demand that the currency be inflated rather than contracted, and Congress suspended the retirement. George H. PendletonPendleton, George Hunt,
1825–89, American political leader, b. Cincinnati. He was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1847 and served (1854–56) in the state senate. He was an antiwar Democrat in the House of Representatives (1857–65) and vice presidential candidate on
..... Click the link for more information.
 advanced the so-called Ohio Idea, recommending that all government bonds not specifying payment in specie should be paid in greenbacks. John ShermanSherman, John,
1823–1900, American statesman, b. Lancaster, Ohio; brother of William Tecumseh Sherman. He studied law, was admitted (1844) to the bar, and practiced law several years in Mansfield, Ohio, before he moved (1853) to Cleveland.
..... Click the link for more information.
, more conservative, was nevertheless willing to let the greenbacks stay in circulation on a redemption basis. The question was warmly debated in 1869 and was ended by a compromise, which left greenbacks to the amount of $356 million in circulation. The law creating them was declared constitutional in the later Legal Tender casesLegal Tender cases,
lawsuits brought to the U.S. Supreme Court involving the constitutionality of the Legal Tender Act of 1862, which was passed to meet currency needs during the Civil War.
..... Click the link for more information.
, and the matter rested until the Panic of 1873. The hard-hit agrarians then wanted to inflate the currency with more greenbacks. An inflation bill passed Congress in 1874, but so intense was conservative opposition that President Grant reversed his former position and vetoed the bill. Although the Greenback party worked hard to oppose them, the conservatives triumphed in Jan., 1875, with the Resumption Act, which fixed Jan. 1, 1879, as the date for redeeming the greenbacks in specie. The Secretary of the Treasury accumulated a gold reserve of $100 million, and confidence in the government was so great that few greenbacks were presented for surrender in 1879. Congress provided in 1878 that the greenbacks then outstanding ($346,681,000) remain a permanent part of the nation's currency.


See W. C. Mitchell, A History of the Greenbacks (1903, repr. 1960); D. C. Barrett, The Greenbacks and the Resumption of Specie Payments, 1862–1879 (1931, repr. 1965); I. Unger, Greenback Era (1964).

References in periodicals archive ?
For example, our forward-looking statements include statements regarding the potential earnings accretion of the Company's Greenbacks acquisition, the Company's plans for operating Greenbacks' stores, and square footage and store growth projections for fiscal 2003.
The Greenbacks business is run by terrific people and has impressive financial performance," Brock continued.
And fittingly it was United who ended the game in glorious fashion with man-of-the-match Spencer racing clear to find the net with a skidding drive, that deflected off Power-Simpson's legs into the net leaving the Greenbacks to sample their unique prize of achieving promotion.
What makes it even more extraordinary is the fact that both feats came in away games," said the Greenbacks chief.
The Greenbacks had to do it the hard way after going behind to Phil Draycott's goal midway through the first half.
Our contribution to Gardening for Greenbacks is a great way for us to serve farmers in an urban environment," says Bill York, AgriBank CEO.
The third section analyzes the market relationship between gold and the simultaneously circulating 1861 Notes and Greenbacks prior to the (all but complete) retirement of the former in 1863.
AaThese days, with the greenback getting trounced around the globe and the Brazilian real soaring, the once almighty dollar is losing its luster in Latin America's largest country.
Ben Twigger reduced the deficit late on for the Greenbacks, firing home after cutting in from the left past two challenges.
The Greenbacks slipped to defeat at the Oxfordshire club last Saturday, despite taking the lead and dominating matters, but they cannot afford any more hard-luck stories in their bid to escape the Southern Division One West danger-zone.
VALENCIA - Hoping a day on the greens could mean more greenbacks for city coffers, Santa Clarita officials used the SBC Classic to host mixers for local business movers and shakers Thursday.
In Venezuela, hefty oil revenues have kept the country awash in greenbacks.