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  • Prior to independence, banking in the U.S. colonies was rudimentary. Because of the prohibitions against export of specie (gold and silver) to the colonies and against the colonial governments’ emitting bills of credit—paper money—the media of exchange consisted of foreign coin for daily transactions and privately issued bills of exchange for large transactions. Following the financial bubble known as the South Sea Bubble in 1720, restrictions were put on joint stock companies—restrictions that were extended to the colonies in 1740. This precluded the formation of anything other than small banks of deposit and effectively prevented the discounting and rediscounting of bills of exchange by banks of issue.

    Banking in Early America

    During the Revolution, the Continental Congress financed the war by emitting bills of credit. As these ...

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