One Nation Under Gold: How One Precious Metal Has Dominated the American Imagination for Four Centuries [ebook free] by James Ledbetter (epub/mobi)

Worshipped by Tea Party politicians but loathed by sane economists, gold has historically influenced American monetary policy and has exerted an often outsized influence on the national psyche for centuries. Now, acclaimed business writer James Ledbetter explores the tumultuous history and larger-than-life personalities―from George Washington to Richard Nixon―behind America’s volatile relationship to this hallowed metal and investigates what this enduring obsession reveals about the American identity.

Exhaustively researched and expertly woven, One Nation Under Gold begins with the nation’s founding in the 1770s, when the new republic erupted with bitter debates over the implementation of paper currency in lieu of metal coins. Concerned that the colonies’ thirteen separate currencies would only lead to confusion and chaos, some Founding Fathers believed that a national currency would not only unify the fledgling nation but provide a perfect solution for a country that was believed to be lacking in natural silver and gold resources.

Animating the “Wild West” economy of the nineteenth century with searing insights, Ledbetter brings to vivid life the actions of Whig president Andrew Jackson, one of gold’s most passionate advocates, whose vehement protest against a standardized national currency would precipitate the nation’s first feverish gold rush. Even after the establishment of a national paper currency, the virulent political divisions continued, reaching unprecedented heights at the Democratic National Convention in 1896, when presidential aspirant William Jennings Bryan delivered the legendary “Cross of Gold” speech that electrified an entire convention floor, stoking the fears of his agrarian supporters.

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