Shelling Out - The Origins of Money

From the very start, England's 17th century colonies in America had a problem -- a shortage of coins [D94, T01] The British idea was to grow large amounts of tobacco, cut timber for the ships of their global navy and merchant marine, and so forth, sending in return the supplies they felt were needed to keep the Americans working. In effect, early colonists were supposed to both work for the company and shop at the company store. The investors and the Crown much preferred this to paying in coin what the farmers might ask, letting the farmers themselves buy the supplies -- and, heaven forbid, keep some of the profit as well.

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