Lawful Money - By Jerry Black

Jennifer Hester |

Have you ever considered there is such a thing? Lawful money. Humm – what is Lawful??? I find it interesting though there are many quite well educated folks in the financial services industry, having gained designations like CFP, CPA, CFA, RIA, CLU, CHFC, CIMC, etc, very few really know about money. They may have an understanding how it works and what affects its value, but in reality very few really know what money is. Its history. What did our Nation’s Founders know and say about it? Do you know our U.S. Constitution actually defines lawful money?? Our Founders were so concerned about money they felt it not only prudent, but necessary to address the issue. They knew that since the beginning of mankind, man had always manipulated money as a medium of exchange. By the 1700’s it was already becoming a problem in this new world. In the Bible, Jesus even addresses the issue of money in the parables of the New Testament. The Pharisees tried to trick Jesus when they asked him about to whom did a denarius belong.

Let me provide some insight. Over the past almost 40 or so years I have known a very little known bit of trivia. There is only one person who signed all four of our Nation’s most important and precious documents; The Articles of Continental Association, The Articles of Confederation, Declaration of Independence, and The US Constitution. I have asked many public audiences if anyone knows whom this man was. I think maybe three or four knew. A few years back I visited Independence Hall in Philadelphia and to my surprise a docent, to his credit, was able to systematically figure it out, though not knowing right off the top of his head. Judge Roger Sherman, born April 1721, served as the first mayor of New Haven, Connecticut, and served on the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration of Independence, and was also a representative to the conventions and a senator. He served as Justice of the Superior Court of Connecticut from 1766 to 1789 and also became Treasurer of Yale College. Sherman was considered by Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton, Franklin and others to be one of the most respected and scholarly men of his time. It is also a little known fact Sherman is known for having spoken from the floor of the Constitutional Convention more than any other representative; 139 times. This historical perspective is important because of what he had to say about money.

In 1752 Sherman wrote the treatise, “A Caveat Against Injustice – An Inquiry Into The Evils of a Fluctuating Medium of Exchange.” He is responsible for Article I Section 10 of the US Constitution which states: “No State shall make any Thing but Gold and Silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts.” That is lawful money as defined by our Constitution. Never by amendment to the Constitution has this been changed!! Think about that!! In fact, in the early 80’s I wrote then Georgia State Attorney General Michael Bowers a letter asking if this provision of the Constitution was still binding upon the State of Georgia. He affirmed!! However, under Executive Order of The President, April 5th, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed that. So today, what is lawful money? A fluctuating medium of exchange in violation of our Founder’s intent’s??? I wonder – does your Congressman(woman) know this tid bit of “trivia?” Is there some “Injustice” in all this?? Hummm!!!!! By the way – ask your financial advisor if he or she knows this information.