Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The US Mint in Charlotte

When I was working on the book Civil War Charlotte: Last Capital of the Confederacy, I had the chance to dig into the history of the US Mint in Charlotte. I've found a couple of other pieces of information recently, and I thought you might enjoy learning a bit more.

Gold was discovered in North Carolina in 1799 in Cabarrus County. North Carolina led in the production of gold in North Carolina until 1848. In 1835, the United State Government officially established a branch of the United States Mint in Charlotte, and a building was built in Charlotte for the production of gold coins. In 1861, the officers at the US Mint were as follows: Green W. Caldwell - Superintendent and Acting Treasurer.; John H. Gibbon - Assayer, Melter and Refiner; E. Graham - Chief Coiner; and, William F. Stranger - Clerk.
On March 9, 1861, the Confederate Congress passed a resolution for the continuance of the mints at New Orleans and Dahlonega (GA). Had North Carolina already left the Union and joined the Confederacy, this act no doubt would have extended to the Queen City as well. The Mint itself was captured by militia colonel J. Y. Bryce in April 1861. Governor Ellis offered the Mint building and operations to Jefferson Davis. There was an estimated $26,716.01 in gold bullion and coins captured at this time. However, the mints in the South ceased operations on May 14, 1861. It was determined that the cost of operating the mints would far surpass their anticipated income.

In June, there was some discussion about keeping the Assay Office open, but once again, it was determined that the cost outweighed the potential profit. On August 6, 1861, the Confederate government was petitioned by North Carolina, asking that the mint in Charlotte be put into operation. This was approved on August 24, 1861, but, in May 1862, the operation was shut down. The building and machinery was turned over to the Navy Department (loaned). What was not needed by the Navy was put into storage. It was not until December 1864 that inquiries were made by the CS Senate regarding putting the Mint back into operation. Secretary of the Treasury Trenholm replied that the he did not see any benefit of opening the mints, and they remained closed.

The Mint would serve as offices for much of the War. At the end of the War, the remnants of the Confederacy treasury, along with gold from the banks in Richmond, were deposited in the Mint building, along with the papers of the Treasury Department.

Following the end of the War, Federal military forces used the building as their headquarters. The Assayer's office was reopened in 1867. In 1873, North Carolina petitioned Congress to reopen the mint itself, but that request was denied. The Assay office operated until 1913.

So there you have it, a little more information about the United States Mint in Charlotte during the War. I for one would love to know just who was still mining gold in the Charlotte area 1861-1865. 

1 comment:

William O'Quinn said...

Interesting information. On the Pawn Stars TV program a man had a gold coin minted in Charlotte in 1861. I don't remember if he sold it or not, but they said it was rare.