Experiment in Independence: New Jersey in the Critical Period, 1781-1789

By Richard P. McCormick | Go to book overview

VII
Money: the Era of Deflation

MERCANTILE projects and proprietary disputes were concerns of the few. They did not raise issues that aroused widespread popular interest. Financial problems stimulated more public controversy and absorbed more legislative energy in the troubled eighties than did any others. They arose in the main out of attempts to rehabilitate a currency system that had been totally deranged by the expedients that had been adopted under the pressure tary necessity. Also involved was the matter of servicing a debt which, in view of the available resources, seemed gering. Every citizen, wealthy or poor, was directly affected by the decisions that were made respecting money, taxation, public securities, and measures for the relief of debtors. Understandably enough, rival economic groups within the state held opposing views on these vital questions, and they sought to utilize the existing political processes to have enacted such laws as they deemed essential to their welfare. Under these conditions, the sensitivity of the machinery of self-government to popular pressures was to be tested thoroughly, and some of the basic implications of majority rule were to become apparent.

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