Maryland 1837 $10
The Susquehanna Bank, Port Deposit
Here is a 10 dollar banknote that better shows the early locomotives and their passenger cars: Converted Stagecoaches. The people on the inside of these coaches were often times better off as they did not have to deal with the exhaust from the smokestacks. But I think the outside ride would be the more adventuresome trip.
Located in the town of Port Deposit, Maryland, the Susquehanna Bank issued this banknote in 1837. The railroad came to Port Deposit, MD in 1832, so by the time this particular note was issued, there had only been a railroad in the area for five years! The banknote also shows, in smaller detail, a side-wheel paddle boat on the Susquehanna River, another important mode of transportation.
The average hourly wage of production workers in the USA in 1837 was a whopping $0.06, making this $10 bill worth 166.6 hours of work. Based on a 40 hour work week, that’s barely over one month’s wages. But there was a panic in 1837 that caused a recession that lasted into the next decade. A lot of the blame was set on Andrew Jackson, who vetoed the charter of the Bank of the United States in 1832, which caused it’s closing during the next four years. But there were domestic and foreign causes that led to the panic of 1837, including raising interest rates by banks, which caused the prices of goods to plummet. Another factor wasthe Specie Circular of 1836. This was another act of Andrew Jackson which required that the purchase of Federal Lands in the west be paid in gold and silver coin only. The reason for the Specie Circular was that there was a worry that the speculators buying up new land that had recently had the Native Americans removed. Jackson wanted to ensure that the money was good, and not paper currency that, at that time, may not have had sufficient backing by the individual banks they were drawn on.
An interesting side-note is that almost the entire town of Port Deposit, MD was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.