Roundtable: The Political Economy of Gold, Money and Loyalty

The final Bancroft Round Table of the spring semester will take place on Thursday, May 17 at noon in the Faculty Club.  Mike Caires, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Virginia, and Gunther Barth Fellowship Recipient will give a talk entitled  The Political Economy of Gold, Money and Loyalty: Californians and the Greenbacks in the Civil War Era.

The discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in 1848 not only marked the start of an international gold rush, but also set the stage for an antagonistic relationship between Californians and the Federal government. With their ready supply of gold, Californians resisted use of depreciated federal paper money (along with other federal efforts to regulate banking) during the Civil War. Yet as willingness to accept greenbacks came to symbolize support for the Union war effort, the perplexing matter of greenbacks proved internally divisive for Californians. How could Californians profess support for the Union while simultaneously undermining one of the basic means of financing the war? Using materials drawn from the Bancroft and other Bay Area archives,  The Political Economy of Gold, Money and Loyalty examines how Californians attempted to balance their own economic desires and their conceptions of individual rights with the growing monetary powers of the Federal government in the nineteenth century.

Although the vast majority of attention is given to the East when the Civil War figures in historical narratives, the struggle in California was of great importance in suggesting what the future of the country might look like after Appomattox.  The campus community is invited to join us for this rare opportunity to hear the fruits of research about Civil War struggles in California.  Bancroft Round Tables serve to highlight the rich resources the library has to offer for the study of our heritage.