This week in history was a bad week for the private ownership of gold. On August 28, 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued an executive order prohibiting the “hoarding” of gold by Americans. Private citizens were required to surrender any “gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates” they owned. The order also placed limits on the export of precious metals.
More than a century earlier, on August 28, 1814, Philadelphia banks stopped all payment of specie (gold or silver). The young nation was in the midst of the War of 1812. The British had burned the White House four days earlier and seemed to be looting the country at will.
August 29, 1862, is the birthday of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Congress authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to issue paper currency because genuine silver coins were disappearing from circulation. A flood of greenbacks soon followed.
The printing presses have never stopped since.