Skip to main content

Mint Act


The U. S. Congress passed the Mint Act on April 2, 1792, to establish the country's first mint at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The ineffectual Articles of Confederation (1781) had given each state the right to mint its own coins. To ensure the stability of the monetary system, the U.S. Constitution (adopted in 1788) revoked that right, declaring the federal government the sole issuer of currency in the nation (metal or paper money). The Mint Act was the necessary follow-up to the Constitution's proclamation that the federal government alone would "coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures." The Congressional legislation made the dollar the basic unit of money and adopted the bimetallic standard, meaning that both gold and silver became legal tender (an official medium of payment) in the United States. Laws fixed the value of each metal in relation to the other.

American inventor David Rittenhouse (173296) was appointed the first director of the U.S. Mint, an office he held from 1792 to 1795. Rittenhouse had been active in state politics and served as treasurer of Pennsylvania (177789). The Mint Act authorized coins in three denominationsthe copper cent (or penny), the silver dollar, and the gold eagle. The coinage was based on Thomas Jefferson's (17431826) decimal system, which he had proposed when he was a member of the Continental Congress (178385).

For decades after the Mint Act, U.S. coins circulated along with foreign coins in the states. The federal government determined the exchange rate based on how much precious metal was present in foreign coins. But in 1857 Congress approved a law removing foreign coins from circulation.

For many years the $10 gold eagle was the highest denomination of U.S. coin. In 1933 the government took gold out of circulation; the precious metals present in other coins was also reduced through later Congressional legislation. Today gold and silver coins are minted as commemorative issues for collectors. Silver and gold bullion (bars or ingots) are minted for sale to investors.

See also: Bank of the United States (First National Bank), Currency, Thomas Jefferson, Money

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Mint Act." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. . 22 Jan. 2019 <>.

"Mint Act." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. . (January 22, 2019).

"Mint Act." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. . Retrieved January 22, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.