Thomas Jefferson Papers

Memorandum on Paper Money, [October 1777–January 1778]

Memorandum on Paper Money

[October 1777–January 1778]

year. sum in circulatn. rate sum raised
1778. 3,125,000 £ 10/ 500,000
1779. 2,625,000 20/ 1,000,000
1780. 1,625,000 15/ 750,000
1781.   875,000 10/ 500,000
1782.   375,000  5/ 250,000
1783.   125,000.  2/6 125,000
1784.   000,000 3,125,000

The sums supposed to be raised yearly are on the supposition that the valuation of estates will be equal thro the whole 6 years to what they are now. But it is certain that valuation must diminish yearly, as the quantity of money in circulation diminishes. Allowance must therefore be made for this.1

⅛ of 40,000,000 dollars is 1,500,000
Colonial emissions made & to be made before other funds come in 1,625,000

It is supposed the Continental debt which is about £400,000, with the sale of the back lands may support government.


MS (ViU); entirely in TJ’s hand; consists of undated fragment written on a small sheet, with text in margin partly torn away (see notes below); on verso in an unidentified hand: “Page 5—☞.”

These fragmentary notes evidently relate to the efforts of TJ and George Mason during the October 1777–January 1778 session of the Virginia General Assembly to address the growing problem of the state’s Revolutionary War debt. TJ arrived at the session as early as 22 Oct. 1777 and later, as a member of a committee, drafted a bill, submitted by Mason but ultimately deferred by the House of Delegates, that was intended to raise the credit of the state’s paper money by establishing a land office for the purpose, among other things, of using the proceeds from the sale of western lands in Virginia to help retire the state’s public debt. Mason, for his part, drafted a tax act, approved in January, that was designed to retire Continental and state bills of credit (see Editorial Note and group of documents on bills for establishing a land office and for adjusting and settling titles, at [8–14 Jan. 1778]); Robert A. Rutland, ed., The Papers of George Mason, 3 vols. [Chapel Hill, 1970], i, 375–97; and JHD description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia (cited by session and date of publication) description ends , October 1777–January 1778, p. 1–2). See also Selby, Revolution description begins John E. Selby, The Revolution in Virginia, 1775–1783, Williamsburg, 1988 description ends , 152–4.

1Remainder of text written lengthwise in the right margin.

2One or more lines torn away, the ascenders of a new line of text being visible.

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