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Knox v. Lee

United States Supreme Court
79 U.S. (12 Wall.) 457 (1871)


In the Legal Tender Act of 1862, Congress coined paper dollars as bills of credit that constituted legal tender for public and private debts, including those debts already incurred. The plaintiff sued the federal government (defendant), challenging the constitutionality of the act and claiming that Congress did not have the power to make paper money valid legal tender for previously incurred debts. The plaintiff asserted that as the Constitution gave Congress the power to coin money and establish the money’s value, such power applied only to coins, i.e., gold and silver. The lower court upheld the act’s constitutionality. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Strong, J.)

Concurrence (Bradley, J.)

Dissent (Chase, C.J.)

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