VIRGINIA PAYS FOR THE REVOLUTION WITH PAPER CURRENCY
Like other states during the American Revolution, Virginia had to issue paper money to pay the costs of the war. Virginia’s first paper money came out in 1755 to help finance the colony’s involvement in the French and Indian War. Strictly speaking, Virginia paper notes were bills of credit backed by the colony, to be paid off out of future tax revenues, but they functioned like currency.
Two examples of Virginia currency issued during the Revolution, both in the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation collection, will be exhibited in “Jamestown’s Legacy to the American Revolution,” opening March 1 at Jamestown Settlement. An eight-dollar note issued in 1777 features the new state symbol, a figure representing Virtue with the motto SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS (thus always to tyrants), which was adopted by Virginia in 1776. Sometimes Virginia’s wartime government issued currency to pay for an immediate and specific need, exemplified by a 1780 note, signed by the state’s second governor, Thomas Jefferson, to fund clothing for Virginia troops in the winter of 1780-81.