City of Chattanooga Scrip
City Scrip Issued in the 1870s
City scrip and warrents
The minutes of the Chattanooga Board of Mayor and Aldermen for December 16, 1873 indicate that scrip, coupons and other forms of City issued payment instruments were in circulation after March 29, 1867. The only payment instruments that are known to have survived is the bond coupon below.
$30 City Bond Coupon 1874, G-1298.30
2nd Where Taxes are paid - if in scrip known as the old issue - Scrip of the 10% issue, past due Bonds or Coupons, Judgments or approved classes of the previous administrators - the same shall be canceled and not again put in circulation for any purposes whatever.
3rd To meet the current expenses of the city, your committee recommend the issue of corporation checks, in denominations of $1, $2, and $5 ; the source to be of the size of our National Currency, regularly numbered, and to be neatly executed by some responsible Lithographers; such checks when received should be placed on deposit with some responsible parties, we recommend J. GeMontague, D.C. McMiller and A. C. Panis - as trusties for the safe keeping of the same, to be drawn by the Mayor and Chairman Finance Committee in amounts sufficient to defray the current expenses monthly - and only such checks signed as are thus drawn for such expenses and thereupon the checks signed shall be turned over to the City Treasure, the Auditor taking the Treasure's receipt for the amount of such checks, which receipt shall show the numbers of each denomination so signed and delivered - Such checks as are thus turned over to the Treasure for disbursement shall be signed by the Mayor and Auditor the same shall be receivable for Taxes and all other dues for the City on presentation. Finance Committee recommends the following in form.
5 State of Tennessee
The same shall be endorsed on the back:
This check is receivable on presentation at
The minutes of the Chattanooga Board of Mayor and Aldermen for March 7, 1874 contain the following report:
Based on the detailed accounting recorded in the Board of Mayor & Alderman minutes of these notes, date issued, by serial number and denomination, we know that 1,999 $1, 2,664 $2 and 1,999 $5 were dated, signed and issued of the Type 1, payable in one year, notes. The notes were signed by Dr. P. D. Sims, mayor and Thomas Taylor, auditor.
A $1 note was pictured in the Chattanooga Times March 7, 1933 (#561)from Mayor Bass's collection. He donated his other City scrip to the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Bicentennial Library but this note was not in the donation. It's where about is unknown. The back of T1, T2 and T3 notes are the same for each denomination
A total of 6 Type 1 (due 1 year after issue) $2 notes are known. The unissued serial number 4865 pictured in Paul Garland's book was only City of Chattanooga note he was aware of in 1983 when his book was printed. The triangular cutout indicate the note was redeemed by the city.
The only known $5 Type 1 (due 1 year after issue) is held by the Chattanooga Bicentennial Library. It was donated to the Library by Mayor Bass in 1947.
Type 2 Payable in 3 year handwritten
Based on the detailed accounting we know that 1,101 $1, 1,335 $2 and no $5 were issued of the Type 2, payable in one year printed and crossed out with 3 years hand written.
Only three Type 2 (due 3 years after issue over 1 year after issue) notes are known one $1 note and two are $2 notes, one is held by the Chattanooga Bicentennial Library, donated by Mayor Bass in 1947.
Type 3 Payable in 3 year printed
The Board of Mayor & Alderman minutes of 3/23/75 record that a second order of scrip was received which included 21,000 $10, 4,500 $5, 4,530 $2, 2,000 $1 that were printed, due 3 years after issue. It also records that a large number of the one year after issue were left over and were to be destroyed. Of the notes received the records indicate that none of the $1, 500 of the $2, 1000 of the $5 and 500 of the $10 notes were dated, signed and issued.
Three Type 3 notes (due 3 years after issue printed) are known, a $2, a $5 and $10.
On October 4, 1875 the county sheriff served Mayor John W. James with an injunction outlawing the Board from issuing another dollar in scrip. The injunction resulted from a suit filed in Hamilton County Chancery Court by Webster Colburn, businessman, in conjunction with J.P. Wilkerson, former alderman, "on behalf of themselves and the taxpayers of the City of Chattanooga". It charged the mayor and alderman with illegally creating massive debts against the city. According to the complaint, Chattanooga's production of scrip was contrary to the 1873 act of the Tennessee legislature which did not allow treasury warrants without specific authorization of two-thirds of the voters at an election held for that purpose.
The next day the board met and suspended all payments of scrip for any city expense. After consideration, the schools were excepted. This effectively shut down all city departments. Very little city work was done until after the November election when a new mayor and alderman were elected. An accounting of the scrip liability indicated the city had created a massive debt, for that time, of $9,532 of 1 year after issue scrip and $20,939 of 3 year after issue scrip.
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