The following is an excerpt of an article on the Mint’s website by Philadelphia Mint Exhibits and Public Affairs
A Philadelphia Mint employee reads a historic 19th-century ledger book of Mint records.
The morning of April 2, 1792, seemed like an otherwise normal Monday in Philadelphia, the largest city in the new nation and its new capital. But a long national debate was about to end on that spring day. The founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Robert Morris had been debating a new monetary system for the new nation for nearly a decade.
Each of them understood the need for America to develop its own money in order for the nation to survive and grow. It would reflect America’s sovereignty, independence, and strength. But what should our money look like? Who should make it? What should it be based on? Their discussions culminated on that day, 230 years ago, when Congress enacted the Coinage Act of April 2, 1792, which established the United States Mint, its coinage, and procedures.
Not long afterward, the first Mint was constructed under the direction of David Rittenhouse, only 100 yards from the current Philadelphia Mint building. Making coins in early Philadelphia was a laborious task. Coins were struck by hand on large screw presses. Mint employees worked by the light of whale oil lamps, working over 12 hours and earning $1 in wages per day.
Since that day, 230 years ago, coins have been continuously made in Philadelphia. And as the nation grew, so did the demand for coins. The Philadelphia Mint relocated buildings three times. The fourth facility, the largest and safest Mint in the world, opened on Independence Mall on August 14, 1969.
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