The Rise and Fall of the Gold Standard in the United States

40 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2012

See all articles by George Selgin

George Selgin

The Cato Institute; University of Georgia

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 27, 2012


The “money question” — which is to say, the question concerning the proper meaning of a “standard” U.S. dollar — was hotly contested throughout most of U.S. history, and partly for this reason a gold standard that was both official and functioning was in effect only for a period comprising less than a quarter of the full span of the U.S. history, surrounded by longer periods during which the dollar was either a bimetallic (gold or silver) or a fiat unit. This brief review of the history of the gold standard in the U.S. explains both how the standard came into being, despite not having been present at the country’s inception, and of how it eventually came to an end.

Keywords: gold standard, gold exchange standrad, bimetallism, Bretton Woods, U.S. dollar

JEL Classification: E42, N20, N24

Suggested Citation

Selgin, George, The Rise and Fall of the Gold Standard in the United States (August 27, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

George Selgin (Contact Author)

The Cato Institute ( email )

1000 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States


University of Georgia ( email )

Athens, GA 30602-6254
United States
706-542-2734 (Phone)
706-542-3376 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics