For the majority of America’s early years, currency was bimetallic. That is, both gold and silver were minted into legal tender coins at a ratio of 15:1 (15 ounces of silver for 1 ounce of gold). But in 1873, the United States government made the decision to do away with the bimetallic standard by demonetizing silver altogether. France, England, and Holland demonetized their silver the year before, and with the encouragement of British economist Ernest Seyd, the U.S. followed suit.

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