1861 Civil War North Carolina $2


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This note is commonly collected by Confederate States bank note collectors.

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Civil War era 1861 North Carolina State Note. The original notes were uniface, that is printed on only one side.

Paper Money in the Civil War

To pay for the war, the Confederate government issued a vast array of paper currencies — at least seventy different types of currency, totaling more than 1.5 billion dollars, an incredible sum at that time. Making things even more confusing, state governments issued their own currencies — as did banks, insurance companies, and businesses.

North Carolina currency

Below are some examples of paper money printed by the State North Carolina during the Civil War, all from the North Carolina Collection of UNC Libraries, and are available online through Documenting the American South.

The drawings and symbols on the money say a great deal about how southerners wanted to think of themselves and their new nation. As you look at each piece of currency, think about why the symbols were chosen.

None of this paper money could be redeemed, or traded for, gold or silver — as was common in the early nineteenth century. The Confederate government had no gold or silver to make coins. Instead, Confederate paper money was like a loan — a promissory note or promise to pay at a later time. At the start of the war, when southerners expected to win the war, they were willing to trust that their paper dollars would continue to hold value. But as the South started to slide towards defeat, they lost faith in not only their chances of victory but their money as well.


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