Lincoln’s Greenbacks

Constitutional Moments and Monetary Reform

Oct 17, 2013


This seminar will explore the political, economic, and legal innovations leading up to, during, and following the Lincoln Administration and the Civil War. In addition, it will examine the relationship between ante- and post-bellum monetary and financial system innovation and the larger currents of constitutional and social transformation of the period.

Questions to be addressed include:

What impact did Abraham Lincoln’s presidency have on the historical evolution of the legal architecture of the United States macroeconomy?

What were the most significant institutional and legal innovations concerning money that took place during this period?

How did these innovations come to be, and what legacy did they impose on subsequent monetary system developments?

What lessons can contemporary policymakers take from the Lincoln-era monetary debates?


Timothy A. Canova
Professor of Law and Public Finance
Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center.
Richard Bensel
Gary S. Davis Professor of Government
Cornell University
David Weiman
Alena Wels Hirschorn Professor of Economics
Barnard College
Gillian Metzger
Stanley H. Fuld Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Center for Global Governance
Columbia Law School

Core Resources

The Political Economy Of The U.S. Monetary Union: The Civil War Era As A Watershed

Weiman, David F.. The Political Economy of the U.S. Monetary Union: The Civil War Era as a Watershed.” Monetary Systems: Transitions and Experiments. Ed. John A. James. 2007.


Lincoln’s Populist Sovereignty: Public Finance Of, By, And For The People

Canova, Timothy A. Lincoln’s Populist Sovereignty: Public Finance Of, By, and For the People., 2009.



Bensel, Richard Franklin. Preface.” Yankee Leviathan: The Origins of Central State Authority in America, 1859-1877. 1990.