legendary Coins and Currency
Exhibition Collection Search Timeline Game Visit
Legendary FirstsLegendary BeautiesUnexpected LegendsGolden LegendsLegends of the Human Spirit
Enter the Online Exhibition (Flash Required)
 
 
Image of Maryland, 1 2/3 Dollars, 1775
 
View details Switch between front and back
Zoom using Flash

Purchase this image

Materials: Paper
Measurement: 7.0 x 9.2 cm
Source: B.M. Douglas
Note:
 


Maryland, 1 2/3 Dollars, 1775

American currency was sometimes used to mold public opinion during the War for Independence. The high-minded Latin mottoes suggested by Ben Franklin had this intent. So did a series of small, printed messages on North Carolina currency issued between 1778 and 1780. But an early series of Maryland notes, including this specimen, stand out.

The note is worn, and, in common with several of its fellows, it was carefully stitched together, obscuring part of the design. But if we could see everything, we would see that, on the front of the note, a figure representing Great Britain receives a petition of the Continental Congress. It is handed to her by an America, who is simultaneously trampling on a scroll marked SLAVERY and holding aloft a Liberty cap on a pole, a beacon for American troops who are hastening to the scene from the right.

Meanwhile, George III (the figure at the center-left) is doing his best to set fire to an American city (perhaps Baltimore) already under attack from a British fleet. He’s also trampling a copy of Magna Charta, just to underscore the point. Inscriptions along the sides read "AN APPEAL TO HEAVEN" and "PRO ARIS ET FOCIS" (For altars and hearths). The other side of the note conveys hope. Britain and America are shown achieving peace, with the reminder that "PAX TRIUMPHIS POTIOR" (Peace is preferable to victory).

The note was designed by Annapolis silversmith Thomas Sparrow in the summer of 1775. His initials are inscribed on the front and his full name on the back. This series of Maryland notes remains the most politically charged currency ever issued in the United States during wartime.
 
Related Events
1773: In the Boston Tea Party, 342 chests of British Tea worth 18,000 Pounds Sterling are destroyed.
1774: The First Continental Congress convenes in Carpenter's Hall in Philadelphia.
1775: Addressing the Virginia Convention, Patrick Henry declares, "Give me liberty or give me death!"
1776: Americans sign their Declaration of Independence, formally beginning a war with Great Britain.
1789: The United States Constitution is adopted, creating a strong federal government.
 
Legends of the Human Spirit The following objects are in this section.
United States, 2 Dollars, 1776Connecticut, 2 Shillings 6 Pence, 1776Confederacy, 1 Dollar, 1862
United States, 30 Dollars, 1776Confederacy, 5 Dollars, 1862Norfolk, Nebraska, 1 Dollar, 1933
Virginia, 15 Dollars, 1776Confederacy, 5 Dollars, 1863Pismo Beach, California, 1 Dollar, 1933
Maryland, 1 2/3 Dollars, 1775Confederacy, 10 Dollars, 1863Pismo Beach, California, 50 Cents, 1933
 
Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Behring Center Learning Resources Tell a Friend Flash Exhibition
Copyright© Privacy Policy Press Credits