February 21, 1776

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Congress spends most of the day considering “the number and denominations of the bills in which the four millions of dollars, directed by Congress to be issued, ought to be emitted.”

Congress included for the first time bills for four fractions of a dollar, ranging from one-sixth to two-thirds. These fractional bills were to have a new design, which has particular numismatic significance because it became, with slight modification, that of the first coin issued by the United States, the so-called Fugio Cent of 1787. Franklin has been widely credited with being the original designer. The drawings reproduced here persuade us that he was responsible at least for the back of the bill.  The first drawing indicates rays emanating from the central circle, as they did on the bill; the second drawing contains the same legend as that on the bill. The remaining question is whether those two designs were Franklin’s or merely found their way into his papers. Here the sketch on the back of his draft resolutions on trade assumes importance. It was his beyond any doubt, and the Latin legend appears to be in the same hand as the English legend on the second drawing; if so both were his. When these bits of evidence are put together, the conclusion is hard to escape that Franklin was the designer.

Meanwhile, Abigail Adams writes her first letter to John.  “Tis a month this day since you left me, and this is the first time I have taken my pen to write to you. My conscience accuses me, but I have waited in hopes of having something worth saying to you, some event worth relating; but it has been a dead calm of dull repose. No event of any importance upon either side excepting the burning of some houses by the Enemy upon Dorchester Neck has taken place since you left us… I must beg the favour of you to send me a quire of paper, or I know not whether I shall be able to write you an other Letter. We cannot get any here. I was obliged to beg this, and your Daughter requests a blank Book or two. If Mack Fingal is published be so good as to send it.  The army is full, more men now in camp than has been since the army was first together. Not very sickly there, But in the Country the plurisy fever prevails and is very mortal. We have lost 3 grown persons in this part of the Town this week. Many others lay bad—it carries them of in 8 days.  All our Friends send Love. Write me by every opportunity and believe me at all times Yours.”

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