Now who says that no one cares about nineteenth-century southern legal history? According to the AP, $493 in confederate currency
was found in a Morgan County [Alabama] court file containing documents about the estate of slave owner Riley S. Davis, who died without a will in 1860, the year before the Civil War began. The bills, in near mint condition, turned up earlier this year after being discovered a decade ago and then forgotten. ....
A document filed in chancery court almost a month after the Civil War ended in 1865 gave an itemized list of people hiring slaves who had belonged to Davis, along with the amount of money that was due to his estate.
The tally showed the file was $493 short, [Morgan County archivist John] Allison said. He speculated that the clerk made up the difference with Confederate cash that was worthless because the war was either over or near its end.
Now there's a reason to get back into the archives this summer!
And, as long as I'm talking about Confederate money, I suppose I ought to comment on the icons on the money. I think it was John Majewski's important new book, Modernizing a Slave Economy, that led me to realize that there are some revealing images on the Confederate currency--like a railroad. But there also seem to be black people--laboring, of course--and white men, sometimes on horses. Wow--how revealing of the ideas behind the founding of the Confederacy. That two dollar bill has John C. Calhoun over on the lower right; the Virginia state house was on another bill; the $100 bill that is above right has a railroad and a woman carrying a basket on her head (I suppose she's a slave, but I'm not sure).
Much like John Hope's Vermont Marble Quarry, I wish I'd included something about Confederate currency in "Property and Progress: Antebellum Landscape Art and Property Law." Well, I'm sure there will be another opportunity to work on that topic and include some more images.
Update: My colleague Mark Weidemaier (who'll be guesting with us shortly) mentioned that some of the sovereign bonds he's worked with have similar images. Then he pointed me to this terrific website. Check out the images on the Alabama notes in particular.