Many thanks to Peter Schiff for the magnificent story he posted today about a man named Josiah Sprinkle, who lived in eastern Kentucky in the early 1830s. The story, written by Samuel Bryan, was posted at Schiff Gold and titled Privately Minted Silver Coins Were Legitimate Money in the 1800s. Josiah had a silver mine and minted his own private money, made of pure silver. At that time, the U.S. government money was also minted of silver, but Josiah’s were worth slightly more than theirs were. The government didn’t appreciate the competition, and had Josiah arrested. He was found not guilty in court!
How did Josiah Sprinkle escape conviction and prison? Because his coins were REAL MONEY, being pure silver, and being of the correct weight that met the definition of a dollar. The U.S. government did not have a valueless fiat currency to defend, so they could not prove the charge. They couldn’t claim, in court, that Josiah’s coins were counterfeits, and not money. Money is money, no matter who minted it. Money is silver and gold.
Nowdays the Federal Reserve circulates fiat currency, NOT Real Money. The paper is not backed by silver or gold.
Schiff also briefly tells the story of the Yocum Dollar. You can read about the Yocum Dollar and the full story of Josiah Sprinkle at Schiff Gold and at PCGS. The NY Times has a PDF of their 1895 article about Mr. Sprinkle.