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Posts Tagged ‘lawful’

April 30: George Washington becomes the first ...

Loyola professor and senior Mises Institute fellow, Thomas DiLorenzo, likes to attack President Abraham Lincoln for his policies of questionable constitutional authority.

What DiLorenzo won’t do, however, is attack with the same zeal, the same alleged violation of the Constitution by the first, and generally highly regarded President of the United States, George Washington.

During his presidency, Washington signed the Coinage Act of 1792 into law, which stated:

SEC. 16. And be it further enacted, That all the gold and silver coins which shall have been struck at, and issued from the said mint, shall be a lawful tender in all payments whatsoever

The term lawful connotes even stronger authority than legal, since lawful represents adherence to the spirit of the law, as well as the letter.

While prominent hard money advocates such as DiLorenzo take exception with Lincoln’s issuance of interest-free legal tender United States Notes, I have yet to see a single one of them point out with the same contempt, that George Washington was acting just as unconstitutionally, according to their own standards, as they allege Lincoln was in making United States Notes legal tender.

The issue of whether the federal government has the power to issue paper currency is separate from whether it has the power to make any currency legal tender.

As to where Washington may have believed he was acting constitutionally in signing the 1792 Coinage Act into law, and taking the view of his Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton, over that of Thomas Jefferson, see my article The “necessary and proper” clause: it’s not meaningless.

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