The Currency Act of 1751


The text of the Currency Act of 1751, reproduced below, can be found in The Statutes at Large, London: Printed for Mark Basket, 1769, Vol. 7, pp. 403-4, (24 George II, chapter 53).  It was enacted on June 10, 1751 by the Parliament of Great Britain.  Parliament had been debating the wisdom of intervening in the colonies monetary affairs for over a decade, and this act was the result of that debate.

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An Act to regulate and restrain Paper Bills of Credit
in his Majesty's Colonies or Plantations of Rhode Island
and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, the Massachusets
Bay
, and New Hampshire in America; and to prevent the
same being legal Tenders in Payments of Money.

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WHEREAS the Act of Parliament made in the sixth Year of her late Majesty Queen Anne, intituled An Act for ascertaining the Rate of foreign Coins in her Majesty's Plantations in America, hath been intirely frustrated in his Majesty’s said Colonies of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, the Massachusets Bay, and New Hampshire in America, by their creating and issuing, from Time to Time, great Quantities of Paper Bills of Credit, by virtue of Acts of Assembly, Orders, Resolutions or Votes, made or passed by their respective Assemblies, and making legal the Tender of such Bills of Credit in Payment for Debts, Dues and Demands; which Bills of Credit have, for many Years past, been depreciating in their Value, by means whereof all Debts of late Years have been paid and satisfied with a much less Value than was contracted for, which hath been a great Discouragement and Prejudice to the Trade and Commerce of his Majesty's Subjects, by occasioning Confusion in Dealings, and lessening of Credit in those Parts: Therefore, for the more effectual preventing and remedying of the said Inconveniencies, may it please your most Excellent Majesty, that it may be enacted; and be it enacted by the King's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the Authority of the same, That from and after the twenty-ninth Day of September one thousand seven hundred and fifty-one, it shall not be lawful for the Governor, Council or Assembly for the Time being, or any of them, or for the Lieutenant Governor, or Person presiding or acting as Governor or Commander in Chief, for the Time being, within all or any of the aforesaid Colonies or Plantations of Rhode Island, and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, the Massachusets Bay, and New Hampshire, to make or pass, or give his or their Assent to the making or passing of any Act, Order, Resolution or Vote, within any of the said Colonies or Plantations, whereby any Paper Bills or Bills of Credit, of any Kind or Denomination whatsoever, shall be created or issued under any Pretence whatsoever; or whereby the Time limited, or the Provision made, for the calling in, sinking or discharging of such Paper Bills, or Bills of Credit, as are already subsisting and passing in Payment, within any of the said Colonies or Plantations, shall be protracted or postponed; or whereby any of them shall be depreciated in Value, or whereby the same shall be ordered or allowed to be re-issued, or to obtain a new and further Currency; and that all such Acts, Orders, Resolutions or Votes, which shall or may be passed or made, after the said twenty-ninth Day of September one thousand seven hundred and fifty-one, within all or any of the said Colonies or Plantations, shall be, and are hereby declared to be null and void, and of no Force or Effect whatsoever.

II. And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That all such Paper Bills, or Bills of Credit as are now subsisting, and passing in Payments, within any of the said Colonies or Plantations of Rhode Island, and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, Massachusets Bay and New Hampshire, shall be duly and punctually called in, sunk and discharged, according to the Tenor of and within the Periods limited by the respective Acts, Orders, Votes or Resolutions, for creating and issuing, or continuing the same respectively, unless where the same have been altered by any subsequent Act or Acts of Assembly; and in that Case, that the same be discharged according to the Tenor mentioned in the said Act or Acts of Assembly; and that no such Paper Bills, or Bills of Credit, shall, from and after such Periods so limited, as aforesaid be any longer current in all or any of the said Colonies or Plantations respectively.

III. Provided nevertheless, That nothing in this Act contained shall extend, or be construed to extend, to restrain any Governor or Governors, Council or Assembly, within any of the said Colonies or Plantations, from making or passing any Act or Acts of Assembly in any of the said Colonies or Plantations, for the creating and issuing of such Paper Bills, or Bills of Credit, in lieu of, and for securing such reasonable Sum or Sums of Money, as shall be requisite for the current Service of the Year; so as by such Act or Acts of Assembly, whereby such Paper Bills, or Bills of Credit, shall be created or issued, sufficient Provision be made to secure the calling in, discharging and sinking of the same, within a short reasonable Time not exceeding the Space of two Years, to be computed from the Dates of the respective Acts whereby such Paper Bills, or Bills of Credit, were created and issued; any Thing herein before contained to the contrary thereof in any wise notwithstanding.

IV. Provided also, That nothing herein contained shall extend, or be construed to extend to restrain any Governor or Governors, Council or Assembly, within any of the said Colonies or Plantations, from making or passing any Act or Acts of Assembly, in any of the said Colonies or Plantations, for creating and issuing such Paper Bills, or Bills of Credit, in lieu of and for securing such reasonable Sum or Sums of Money as shall, at any Time hereafter, be necessary or expedient upon sudden and extraordinary Emergencies of Government, in case of War and Invasion, so as in every such Act or Acts of Assembly for the Emission of Paper Bills, or Bills of Credit, so issued as aforesaid, due Care be taken to ascertain the real Value of all such principal Sum or Sums for which the same shall be so made, created and issued as aforesaid, and also the Interest to be paid thereon; and so as Care be likewise taken, in the said Act or Acts, to establish and provide an ample and sufficient Fund for the calling in, discharging and sinking, within as short and reasonable a Time as may be, not exceeding five Years at the farthest, all the said Bills, by actual Payment of all and every the Sum and Sums of Money for which the same shall be so made, created and issued as aforesaid, with the Interest due thereon.

V. And whereas there are now subsisting and passing in Payment, within the said Colonies and Plantations, divers Kinds of Paper Bills, or Bills of Credit, of various Denominations, which have been heretofore created and issued within the said Colonies and Plantations, or some of them, on Loans and otherwise, whereby private Persons and their Estates stand liable to, and bound for the Discharge of the Sums by them borrowed and received on such Loans; without the Payment of which Sums (in case any Difficulty or Obstruction should arise in the Payment thereof) such Paper Bills, or Bills of Credit so issued on such Loans, cannot be called in, discharged and sunk, according to the Tenor of the respective Acts, Orders, Votes or Resolutions, by virtue whereof the same have been so respectively issued. For the providing a Remedy for such Inconveniencies, be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That all such Paper Bills, or Bills of Credit, of what Kind or Denomination soever, which have at any Time heretofore been created and issued on such Loans, within of the said Colonies or Plantations, be duly called in, and discharged and sunk, according to the Tenor of the respective Orders, Votes or Resolutions, for creating and issuing, or continuing the same respectively, in like manner as all other Paper Bills, or Bills of Credit, already subsisting within the said Colonies or Plantations, are herein before required to be called in, discharged and sunk.

VI. And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That all Persons who have borrowed and taken up any Sum or Sums of Money on Loans, for the Discharge whereof they and their respective Estates stand bound, shall be required and compelled, by all due and legal Means, to satisfy and discharge the Sums by them borrowed, according to the Terms of such Loans respectively, and the true Intent and Meaning thereof, except as is herein before excepted; and in case any Deficiency or Loss shall happen by Failure of the Security so taken on such Loans respectively, that the same, and every Part thereof, shall be supplied and made good by an adequate Tax or Imposition, to be equally and rateably assessed, levied and raised within the said Colonies or Plantations respectively, where such Loss or Deficiency shall so happen.

VII. And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That from and after the twenty-ninth Day of September one thousand seven hundred and fifty-one, no Paper Currency, or Bills of Credit, of any Kind or Denomination, which may be made, created or issued in any of the said Colonies or Plantations, pursuant to the Provisions herein before made in this Act, shall be a legal Tender in Payment of any private Bargains, Contracts, Debts, Dues or Demands whatsoever, within the said Colonies or Plantations, or any of them.

VIII. Provided, That nothing herein contained shall extend, or be construed to extend to make any of the Bills now subsisting in any of the said Colonies a legal Tender.

IX. And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That if any Governor or Commander in Chief for the Time being, in all or any of his Majesty's said Colonies or Plantations, whether commissioned by his Majesty, or elected by the People, shall, from and after the said twenty-ninth Day of September one thousand seven hundred and fifty-one, give his Assent to any Act of Assembly, Order, Resolution or Vote, for the Emission or Issuing of any Paper Bills, or Bills of Credit, of any Kind or Denomination whatsoever; or for prolonging the Time limited for calling in and sinking any such Paper Bills, or Bills of Credit, as are now subsisting and passing in Payment; or for re-issuing or depreciating the same, contrary to the true Intent and Meaning of this Act; such Act, Order; Resolution, or Vote, shall be ipso facto null and void, and such Governor or Commander in Chief shall be immediately dismissed from his Government, and for ever after rendered incapable of any publick Office or Place of Trust.


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