What is a “Dollar”?

“Congress determined as an historical fact the meaning of the term “dollar[ ]” as used in the Constitution (footnote 1)—to wit, the “Spanish milled dollar as the same is now current”, containing 371 1/4 grains of fine silver. (footnote 2) By the act of 1792 *** [t]he Spanish milled dollar, as the same was then current in use, was assumed as the standard and “the money of account of the United States shall be expressed in dollars or units, * * * and * * * accounts in the public offices and all proceedings in courts of the United States shall be kept and had in conformity to this regulation”. (footnote 3)

Source: Pieces of Eight: The Monetary Powers and Disabilities of the United States Constitution, (Chicago, Illinois R R Donnelly & Sons ., Inc., GoldMoney Foundation Special Edition [2011] of the Second Revised Edition , 2002) by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Volume I, page 192-193.

What is a “Dollar”?

The word “dollar” is used in the Constitution in both Article I, Section 9, Clause 1 and the Seventh Amendment. Congress’s first Coinage Act, in 1792, decreed that “the money of account of the United States shall be expressed in dollars or units,” (footnote 4) and defined the “DOLLARS OR UNITS” in terms of weight, as “of the value of a Spanish milled dollar as the same is now current, and to contain three hundred and seventy-one grains and four sixteenth parts of a grain of pure * * * silver.” (footnote 5). How many Americans today are aware of this? For those who are not the relationship takes form on the top of this page with a piece of eight struck in 1733. Contrary to popular belief, the U.S. was never on a “gold standard”. The constitutional “Money Unit” or standard of the United States is silver. This matter of fact and constitutional law is no mere point of trivia or intellectual bagatelle. The “dollar” is a coin so familiar in the American experience as to be beyond transmogrification. The Political Class has refused to tell the truth and learning institutions have refused to teach Americans the legal definition of a “dollar”.

Elections were once decided on the basis of a sound, stable currency. Today the average American does not know the definition of a “dollar”, which is why they are using debt masquerading as currency. Without a stable unit of money, there can be no stable political or legal system. This is what the Constitution recognizes and provides for by prohibiting States from using anything other than silver and gold only as “Money”, based on the standard, the “dollar”—a coin containing 371 1/4 grains of fine silver.

1519 - The first ‘dollar’ was struck in Joachim’s Thal, Bavaria.

Historians generally first associate  the “dollar” with one Count Schlick, who began striking such silver coins in 1519  in Joachim’s Thal, Bavaria. Originally called “Shlicktenthalers” or “Joachimsthalers”  the coins became known known simply as “Thalers”, which transliterated into “dollars”. (footnote 1)

Footnotes:

1.) Pieces of Eight: The Monetary Powers and Disabilities of the United States Constitution, (Chicago, Illinois R R Donnelly & Sons ., Inc., GoldMoney Foundation Special Edition [2011] of the Second Revised Edition , 2002) by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Volume I, page 137.

The Constitution itself refutes the modern claim that ‘the federal judiciary is supreme in the exposition of the law of the Constitution’.

The Constitution itself refutes the modern claim that “the federal judiciary is supreme in the exposition of the law of the Constitution”. (footnote 1) Article III states not only (by way of location) that “[t]he judicial power shall extend” only to certain defined types of “Cases” and “Controversies” involving certain categories of litigants. (footnote 2) logically, that may render the decision of a court on a constitutional issue the “law” of such a particular “Case[ ] or “Controvers[y]”, in the sense that it binds the litigants and their privies. But in no way suggests, let alone compels—indeed, it implicitly refutes—the contention that the decision is also the law of the land, in the sense that it binds anyone, let alone everyone, else who was not a party two that “Case[ ]” or “Controvers[y]”.

In the federal convention, when a motion was made to expand the Supreme Court’s reach to cases arising under “this Constitution”, James Madison “doubted whether it was not going to far to extend the jurisdiction * * *generally two cases arising under the Constitution & whether it ought not be limited to cases of a Judiciary Nature. The right of expounding the Constitution in cases not of this nature ought not to be given to that Department.” The motion was adopted, “it being generally supposed that the jurisdiction given was constructively limited to cases of a Judiciary nature”. (footnote 3) that is, the court could “expound[  ] the Constitution” only in “cases of a judiciary nature”. That the Framers understood this limitation to preclude even an advisory, let alone a supervisory, rôle for the Court—that is a Arising outside the specific judicial context of our “Case[ ]” or “Controvers[y[ ]”— is evidenced by the refusal to include judges in a Council of revision, (footnote 4) to include the Chief Justice in a presidential privy Council, (footnote 5) and to allow the President or the Houses of Congress to request advisory opinions from the courts. (footnote 6)

Footnotes:

1.) Cooper v. Aaron, 358, U.S. 1, 18 (1958).

2.) U.S. Const. art. III, §§ 1, 2.

3.) Documents Illustrative of the Formation of the Union of the American States, H.R. Doc. No. 398, 69th Cong., 1st Sess. (1927), at 624-25. See Debates on the Adoption of the Federal Convention in the Constitution Held at Philadelphia in 1787, with a Diary of the Debates  of the Congress of the Confederation: as Reported by James Madison, a Member and Deputy from Virginia (J. Elliot ed.), in 5 J. Elliot, The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution as Recommended by the General Government at Philadelphia in 1787 (2d ed. 1836), at 483; 2 The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 (M. Farrand ed. 1966), at 430. These editions of Madison’s notes differ in minor ways (primarily as to punctuation and capitalization), but without any substantive discrepancies.

4.) 1 The Records of the First Federal Convention of 1787 (M. Farrand ed. 1966), at 21, 97-98, 104, 108-10, 131, 138-40 141, 144-45; 2 Id. at 73-80, 298, 299.

5.) 2 Id. at 328-29, 34. Although The Committee of Detail reported such provision, the Convention never acted on it. Id. at 367.

6.) Id. at 341 (proposal never acted on).

History of the ‘dollar’ in England and the American Colonies.

In 1704-1707 Queen Anne of England passed a proclamation followed by a statute of parliament that made the Spanish Milled Dollar the standard coin by which all other foreign coins were to be valued. (footnote 1) There were many other types of coins circulating (Portuguese, Dutch, etc.). England valued those coins in dollars (i.e,. Spanish Milled Dollar). So if there were a coin that had been minted in some other country that contained the same amount of silver as the Spanish Milled Dollar, that coin would be valued at “1 Dollar” (i.e., 1 Spanish Milled Dollar) in England and the American Colonies. So “regulating the value” of England’s Spanish Milled Dollar against other coinage was simply a matter of comparing weights and measures (amount of silver contained within the coin itself).

Queen Anne wasn’t “creating” something new. She was acknowledging, by proclamation and then a statute something that had already been going on in the market place of England and the American Colonies, which was the acceptance of the Spanish Milled Dollar by merchants as the standard medium (unit) of exchange.

Footnotes:

1.) In an act for ascertaining the Rates of foreign Coins in her Majesty’s Plantations in America, 1707, 6 Anne, ch. 30 § I. Also see: Pieces of Eight: The Monetary Powers and Disabilities of the United States Constitution, (Chicago, Illinois R R Donnelly & Sons ., Inc., GoldMoney Foundation Special Edition [2011] of the Second Revised Edition, 2002) by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Volume I, page 529.

Alexander Hamilton’s Mint Report of 1791 recognized the constitutional ‘dollar’ to be minted as the U.S. monetary standard was to be a ‘substitute’ for the Spanish Milled Dollar.

Alexander Hamilton in his Mint Report of 1791 stated, “There is scarcely any point, in the economy of national affairs, of greater moment than the uniform preservation of the intrinsic value of the money unit. On this the security and steady value of property depend.” (footnote 1) Hamilton went on to say, “[t]he [silver] dollar is recommended by its corespondency with the present coin of that name for which it is designed to be a substitute [i.e., the Spanish Milled Dollar], which will facilitate its ready adoptions such in the minds of the citizens.” (footnote 2)

Footnotes:

1.) H.R. Doc. No. 24, 1st Cong., 3d Sess. (1791) (“Hamilton’s Mint Report”), in 2 The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States (J. Gales compil. 1834), Appendix, at 2071-73. Also see: Pieces of Eight: The Monetary Powers and Disabilities of the United States Constitution, (Chicago, Illinois R R Donnelly & Sons ., Inc., GoldMoney Foundation Special Edition [2011] of the Second Revised Edition, 2002) by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Volume I, page 188.

2.) Id., at 2083-84. Emphasis supplied. Also see: Pieces of Eight: The Monetary Powers and Disabilities of the United States Constitution, (Chicago, Illinois R R Donnelly & Sons ., Inc., GoldMoney Foundation Special Edition [2011] of the Second Revised Edition , 2002) by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Volume I, page 188-189.

Where does the ‘dollar sign’ ($) come from?

Pictured above left is the Spanish Milled Dollar, front and back sides. It is a silver coin that was also known as a “Piece of Eight”, due to the fact that the coin would be cut into 8 equal pieces to “make change”. This coin would eventually become the model for the “Constitutional Dollar”, pictured on the right.

You will see on the back of the Spanish Milled Dollar (pictured above left, coin on the right), two pillars – “The Pillars of Hercules”. This was Gibraltar, part of Spain then, taken over later by the British. This was symbolic of Spanish exploration and colonization. Each pillar has a ribbon around it that says, “Nec plus ultra”, which means, “Nothing further beyond” (“this is the ultimate”).

*Look closely at the image on the left hand side above, the coin on the right — the pillar with the ribbon, and what is it the symbol for? It’s a “dollar” sign ($). If you take both pillars (2 vertical lines through the “S”) that’s another alternative for the “dollar” sign. Our “dollar” sign ($) comes from the back of the Spanish Milled Dollar

The Spanish Milled Dollar would eventually become the “Constitutional Dollar”. But he Founders had another task yet to be performed. To determine the “value” of a “dollar”. In other words, they needed to determine the precise weight and measure of silver to be in each “Constitutional Dollar” to be minted by the United States government. Based on their findings, the “Money Unit” or standard of the United States, the “dollar”, was defined by law in the Mint Act of 1792.

The word “value”, when referring to “Money” in the Constitution, is referring to the metal content of a coin, not the purchasing power of “Money” in the marketplace. The “value” of “Money” in that era was often performed by chemical analysis.

Footnotes

1.) U.S. Const. art. I § 9, cl. 1 and amend. VII.

2.) An Act establishing a Mint, Act of 2 April 1792, ch 16 § 9, 1 Stat. at 248.

3.) Id., ch 16 § 20, 1 Stat. 250-51.

4.) Id., ch 16 § 20, 1 Stat. at 250.

5.) Id., ch 16 § 9, 1 Stat. at 248.