"The legal tender quality [of money]
is only valuable for the purposes of dishonesty."
Justice Salmon Chase
(1808-1873) U.S. Senator from Ohio and Governor of Ohio, U.S. Treasury Secretary under President Abraham Lincoln (1861-1864), Chief Justice of the United States (1864-73)
in dissent of Knox vs. Lee (The Legal Tender Cases, 1871)
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Reader comments about this quote:
Spoken from a position of a debt Creator. When legal tender becomes an issue outside the positive Laws of Nature and of Nature's God, dishonest purposes create an illusion of wealth without the benefit of alodium.
 -- Mike, Norwalk     
    Chase was a bit of a jerk. Read Gore Vidal's "Lincoln" to get a picture of him. But oh then Vidal was a bit of a jerk also. Oh well. It seems to me that legal tender makes the world go round. Just as laws and insurance and make us feel safe to do business with each other, so does the concept of "legal tender".
     -- Waffler, Smith     
    Chase would know...
     -- E Archer, NYC     
  • 1
    Legal tender is just an IOU that depends upon the honesty of both the lender and borrower. Both have been a bit deficient in honesty lately. If it is legal tender that makes the world go around, why is it the world seems to be slowing down? It is lack of faith in the honesty of the lying cheats that make things as they are. On the other hand, money based on a rare commodity has a faith all its own. You can use your own faculties to judge its quality as you hold it in your hand. You don't have to trust in the promises of known liars and frauds.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
    If you need government to make you accept a product, in this case money, may be the stuff really is no good. Honest money is its own reward, you don't need a phoney guarantee to use it.
     -- ED Tonkin, Fairview (near Erie), Pennsylvania     
    There are two things being discussed here: 1. legal tender laws that force acceptance of a particular (debased) currency, and 2. the currency itself that has been given legal tender status. It is the first, "legal tender quality" that Chase was referring to. That quality is decreed by the political power for the purpose of forcing the circulation of debased currency at par value. Without it, such currency would be refused as payment or discounted in the market.
     -- Thomas Greco, Martinez, California     
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