The effect of the gilded age on the Carson City mint



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Purpose: The Purpose of this stud has been to trace the history of Carson City Mint in the last three decades of the nineteenth century, with special attention to causes that brought suspension o the minting operation in 1893. The founding of the mint, the problems and scandals, and its final demise had some relationship to the major political and social developments of the time, especially the crucial issue of silver coinage. Methods: The methods used to obtain material for this study were: (1) examination of correspondence from the Carson City mint; (2) examination of the Congressional Record and U.S. District Court documents; (3) examination of Nevada newspapers and periodicals; and (4) examination of various secondary sources. Findings: The evidence presented in this study suggests the following conclusions: 1. The general misconception was that the Carson City Mint closed because of a lack of bullion from the Comstock Lode, but the Comstock Lode still was excavating much gold and silver when the mint operations were suspended. 2. The Bland-Allision Act of 1878 directed the Secretary of Treasury to purchase monthly not less than two million dollars’ and not more than four million dollars’ worth of silver for coinage into dollars. This act should have greatly increased the volume of coinage at the Carson mint; however, the mint operation decreased during the years of 1879, 1880, 1881, 1885, and 1889, and no coins were struck as the mint was temporarily closed during the years of 1886, 1887, and 1888. 3. Nevada legislators suggested to Congress an increase in the size of the branch mint of Carson and a solution to the problem of limited coinage, drafts, excess coins and silver bars being sent to the San Francisco Mint. This legislation was dismissed as Congress believed that the increase would benefit only the mining interests at the expense of the taxpayers. 4. Local citizens and mining interests lost faith in the branch mint of Carson when their deposits and assays were not properly supervised and safeguarded from employee theft. 5. Four separate thefts were discovered in a period of five years. 6. The case of $80,000 in silver minted in 1893 without authorization remains a puzzle as investigation failed to reveal who coined the bullion. 7. Staff jobs at the branch mint of Carson were choice “plums� to be handed out to deserving members of the political party in power. The same condition applied to other mints but none seemingly experienced the mismanagement of the mint operations as much as the Carson City Mint. 8. The closing of the Carson City Mint was probably related to major silver-purchase legislation and national politics in general, and in particular to President Grover Cleveland. 9. The suspension of the Carson City minting operation and loss of patronage alienated the Nevada Democratic party from President Grover Cleveland.



Mints--Nevada--Carson City--History., Coinage--United States--History.