The Country’s Currency: A History of the Dollar from the American Revolution to the American Century


Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowships




The right to coin or print money is generally assumed to be a self-evident prerogative of the nation state. Yet national control of the currency is itself a historical process, one that began in many countries in the late eighteenth century. This project, a political history of the dollar, seeks to understand the dynamics of this phenomenon in the United States. It explores how direct or indirect control over the currency became central to the larger project of building a powerful nation state from the 1770s onward. In tracing the historical roots of today’s uniform, exclusive, national currency, this project offers a more nuanced understanding of the evolution of the country itself, not only as a modern nation state, but as an “imagined community” of citizens.