TEXT

Confederate Script

These images are of money printed by the government of the Confederate States of America.
Grade Level

This text is part of the Teaching Hard History Text Library and aligns with Key Concept 7. 

Confederate Currency
Source
This text is in the public domain. Retrieved from http://digital.sfasu.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/Community/id/277/rec/5.
Text Dependent Questions
Question
What city or location is stamped on the bills? What do the bills read? What government do they belong to?
Answer
The city of Richmond, Va., is stamped on the bills. They belong to the Confederate States of America.
Question
Who are the men printed on the bills? Can you find any images relating to slavery, the Confederacy or the Civil War? Are there any phrases or images present or absent from the bills that you would expect on a U.S. bill (liberty, for example)?
Answer
Among the men depicted on the bills is Confederate President Jefferson Davis. The phrase “Deo Vendici,” or God as our Defender, is listed on the bill as well (the national motto of the Confederacy). The battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia is depicted, as well as a large plantation home, but enslaved people are not printed on the bills. On a United States bill, you might expect phrases about liberty, freedom or E Pluribus Unum, which are deliberately absent on the Confederate bills.
Question
Interpret the images on the bills. What is the Confederate government attempting to promote, and conversely, what is it attempting to silence? How is violence and war portrayed? How is the Confederacy defining itself through its money?
Answer
The Confederacy attempts to align itself with the will of a Christian God through the Latin phrase Deo Vendici. It also attempts to valorize the Confederate war effort through images of Confederate troops riding into battle. Enslaved people, who made up a large portion of the Southern population, are entirely excluded from representation on the Confederate bills.
Question
Why was it essential for the Confederate States to produce their own money, and why would it have differed so starkly from that of the United States government?
Answer
The Confederacy needed to legitimize itself, and pay for its own expenses, both within its borders and internationally. Unlike the United States, however, the Confederacy stood against freedom and liberty, defending slavery as its most basic priority. Therefore, money could not resemble the United States' celebration of liberty.