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Why Are There 100 Cents In A Dollar? Ask Thomas Jefferson.
Old 08-07-2012, 03:14 PM   #1
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Why Are There 100 Cents In A Dollar? Ask Thomas Jefferson.

NPR has many interesting stories on money. I though that this recent piece on how the dollar got started was very interesting.

Those founding fathers thought of everything didn't they?

Quote:
In April of 1784, Jefferson wrote Notes on the Establishment of a Money Unit, and of a Coinage for the United States. It's essentially this 11-page ramble about currency, rates of exchange, weights of gold and silver coins. It made the U.S. dollar what it is today.

Enlarge Library of Congress Jefferson's 1784 essay "Notes on the Establishment of a Money Unit, and of a Coinage for the United States."


Jefferson's 1784 essay "Notes on the Establishment of a Money Unit, and of a Coinage for the United States."


The U.S. needed a currency that was so simple that any farmer could do his own accounting, Jefferson said. "The bulk of mankind are schoolboys through life," he wrote. "These little perplexities are always great to them."
The U.S. currency shouldn't be divided into eight pieces, like the Spanish dollar. It shouldn't be divided into 90 pennies, as Robert Morris, the central government's superintendent of finance believed. The dollar had to be decimalized — divided based on powers of 10. "Every one knows the facility of Decimal Arithmetic," he wrote.

Jefferson wasn't the inventor of the dollar, and he wasn't the first person to come up with decimalization. But he was extremely influential, and it was his influence that persuaded the new government to do things the way he outlined in this essay
Why Are There 100 Cents In A Dollar? Ask Thomas Jefferson. : Planet Money : NPR
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Old 08-07-2012, 03:53 PM   #2
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Yet America still does not use the metric system. Which is essentially just a decimalized system too...
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Old 08-07-2012, 04:20 PM   #3
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Interesting. The founding fathers were wise in many ways. Good things stand the test of time. The older I get, the more amazing their accomplishment seem.
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Old 08-08-2012, 08:31 AM   #4
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I was born in 1965 in Canada and thus I remember the transition from the Imperial to metric system. But I still think in miles and farenheit, and radio/television weather for many years quoted both measures. Now I refer to the temperature in celicius...usually.
The fact that the United States would not conform to a "universal" system was perplexing. In the long run I would think it would be beneficial as global trade would be easier with standard measures. Not that the transition wasn't painful at times for Canadians. The famous Gimli Glider event was due to the ground crew thinking they had 22,000 kg of fuel when in fact it was 22,000 POUNDS of fuel.
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Old 08-08-2012, 10:23 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Frugalityisthenewblack View Post
The fact that the United States would not conform to a "universal" system was perplexing.
Not at all!
Think of the chaos that might result to our trade with Brunei, Myanmar, and Yemen. They don't use that so-called "universal" system either.

Sure, everyone else uses it, but what about good old tradition?
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Old 08-08-2012, 10:47 AM   #6
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Surprised NPR failed to mention the smallest dollar division is not the cent but rather the mill. The Coinage Act of 1792 states, "That the money of account of the United States shall be expressed in dollars or units, dismes or tenths, cents or hundredths, and milles or thousandths, a disme being the tenth part of a dollar, a cent the hundredth part of a dollar, a mille the thousandth part of a dollar, and that all accounts in the public offices and all proceedings in the courts of the United States shall be kept and had in conformity to this regulation." I suppose that means we can thank Congress for gasoline priced $3.999 per gallon.
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Old 08-08-2012, 11:28 AM   #7
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Quote:
The U.S. currency shouldn't be divided into eight pieces, like the Spanish dollar. ... The dollar had to be decimalized — divided based on powers of 10. "Every one knows the facility of Decimal Arithmetic," he wrote.

Jefferson wasn't the inventor of the dollar, and he wasn't the first person to come up with decimalization. ...
But we ended up with a mix. Quarters are 1/4th. True decimal would only have the $0.01 (penny), $0.1 (dime), maybe integer multiples between 1 and 9, like a 50 cent piece (5 dimes).

Do metric kitchens have 1/4L (250mL) measuring cups? I don't know - and do they call them measuring 'cups'? Or just 100mL, 500ml - integer multiples?

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Old 08-08-2012, 11:38 AM   #8
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Quote:
Not at all!
Think of the chaos that might result to our trade with Brunei, Myanmar, and Yemen. They don't use that so-called "universal" system either.

Sure, everyone else uses it, but what about good old tradition?
We in Canada called the gallon/quarts/mile etc the "Imperial system" as it originated in Britian. Ironically the US retains this British tradition. It is curious.
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Old 08-08-2012, 03:36 PM   #9
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Do metric kitchens have 1/4L (250mL) measuring cups?
Yes of course. 1/8, 1/4, 3/8 - you name it.

The fact that U.S. "short tons" deviate from the metric tons everyone else in the world uses is a major PITA at the Megacorp I work for.
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Old 08-08-2012, 04:40 PM   #10
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Yes of course. 1/8, 1/4, 3/8 - you name it.

The fact that U.S. "short tons" deviate from the metric tons everyone else in the world uses is a major PITA at the Megacorp I work for.
The hassles are endless.
In the wonderful world of beer, the rest of the world uses the hectoliter as the standard measurement of volume, and calculations are easy.

But in this country, all breweries use barrels to measure volume (because our tax laws require it). A US beer barrel is 31 gallons, which is odd enough, but those are US gallons, not even Imperial gallons.

Converting barrels to hectoliters, I multiply by 1.173477658 (or round it off to 1.2 and accept the error).
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Old 08-08-2012, 05:11 PM   #11
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If instead of 10 fingers we had 8, like most cartoon characters, these things would have worked out much simpler.
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Old 08-08-2012, 05:15 PM   #12
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Actually, we should be glad that Jefferson didn't get everything his own way.

The decimal dollar was a good idea that Congress was happy to adopt, but Jefferson also made strong proposals to create new states in a severe rectilinear grid pattern (disregarding natural boundaries like rivers).

You can see vestiges of his idea by looking at the map of most of our western states and comparing them to the shapes of eastern states.

Jefferson also wanted each state divided into "hundreds" (ten square miles) instead of variably sized counties.
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Old 08-08-2012, 07:47 PM   #13
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It was not that long ago that you could read the financials about IBM going up 1/4 and GE down 3/4 of a point. I remember when the stock market converted to it's current pricing system. It was not that long ago.

Wonder why Jefferson did not get involved in that earlier?
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