What’s behind the Greenback?
It became clear to President Abraham Lincoln in 1861 that the War Between the States was going to be both costly and lengthy. So, how was the U.S. government going to pay for the fight to save the Union?
Prior to the war, only gold and silver coins were legal tender. Paper bank notes were privately issued by banks and redeemable for gold and silver but could easily become worthless if an individual bank failed.
Lincoln turned to his Secretary of the Treasury, Salmon Portland Chase, to find a way to fund the Civil War.