The Creation of the First Copper Penny - 'An Act to Provide For a Copper Coinage'

Appearing in the Columbian Centinel of June 20, 1792.

"That the director of the mint...be authorized to contract for and purchase a quantity of copper, not exceeding one hundred and fifty tons...to be coined at the mint into cents and half-cents...and be paid into the treasury of the United States, thence to issue into circulation."

"The Act also stipulates that "no copper coins or pieces whatsoever except the said cents and half-cents, shall pass current as money, or shall be paid, or offered to be paid or received in payment for any debt, demand, claims, matter or thing whatsoever."

This legislation resulted in the birth of the first copper penny.

The Columbian Centinel

The Act is signed in script type by G. Washington on May 8, 1792. The Act warns that all other copper coins used in payment will be forfeited, and those involved fined ten dollars.

This legislation resulted in the birth of the copper penny, from which descends our present one cent piece — in all its various and sundry permutations over the course of 200 years.

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