specie payment

Specie Payment Resumption Act

The Specie Payment Resumption Act (January 14, 1875, ch. 15, 18 Stat. 296) provided for the redemption of United States paper currency, known colloquially as greenbacks, in gold beginning in 1879. Drafted by Ohio Senator John Sherman, the Resumption Act was drafted in opposition to the Eastern financial community, who objected to how the act allowed the Treasury Secretary to manipulate the money supply. Indeed, the measure was hardly drafted in response to the demands of powerful economic groups, but to remove a divisive economic issue from the approaching presidential election of 1876. The Resumption Act actually marks a much more important political transformation in the power of the American state. Specifically, the measure marks the institutionalization of discretionary regulatory authority in an executive bureaucracy; as such, it established perhaps the single most salient characteristic of modern American government, as a form of state authority originally created by Salmon Chase during the Civil War had been institutionalized by the Resumption Act a decade following the conclusion of the Civil War.

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