Thursday, February 9, 2012

Got Any Of These...?

To date, there are many things that happened during the second world war that were not common knowledge! This was the case of the Hawaii dollar!

I had never heard of this particular type of bill before, but maybe you have. It's amazing what you can find just by checking out sites like Now I Know!

Hawaii Dollars

The U.S. Constitution specifically gives Congress the power to coin money, and an 1884 Supreme Court decision makes it clear that this power also applies to paper currency (in that case, backed by gold.) And with rare exception, money printed for use in one state is valid for use in the other states and American territories. One exception: the bills pictured, below.

Pay attention to the sides of the front of the bill — you will see the word “HAWAII” printed, vertically, on either side, next to the seals. The obverse is more clear, with the word “HAWAII” printed over the picture of the Lincoln Memorial and spilling into the sides. What’s going on here?

On December 7, 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, bringing the U.S. into World War II in the process. Hawaii (not yet a state) was isolated both geographically and politically and — given the losses at Pearl Harbor especially — was the most likely widely-inhabited American candidate for a successful Japanese occupation. Any successful occupation would also allow the invading Japanese to seize, potentially, hundreds of millions of dollars in currency from Hawaiian financial institutions. With federal spending still in the tens of billions, such an outcome would have been significantly harmful to the American economy. The HAWAII-emblazoned bills were the solution.

In January of 1942, the military governor of Hawaii (the territory was under the military’s control after the Pearl Harbor bombing) recalled most of the currency in the future state, with some allowances as to not pull all of the cash out of the islands’ economy. Five months later, bills like the one pictured — called “Hawaii overprint notes” – were issued. The theory was simple: if Hawaii fell into Japanese hands, these bills would no longer be legal tender in the United States. This contingency plan never came into play.

In total, over 65 million Hawaii overprint notes were created (totalling over $300 million), in four denominations — $1, $5, $10, and $20, with the $5 note pictured above the rarest of the quartet. On October 21, 1944, ten months before Victory over Japan Day, the required use of these bills ceased.

I can certainly understand the reasoning behind this, but it seems like a lot of expense to me. I can't help but wonder if there might have been a cheaper solution. But then, the government isn't worried too much about how much it spends. After all, it's only our money and not theirs that's being spent! True then...true now!

Coffee on the patio. Be sure and wear something warm, as it's a little chilly first thing in the morning.


kenlowder said...

My in laws have several of those bills, as that's where they were born and still live there. The fear of invasion was very real after the attack. Most folks who lived there during that time have a few of these bills.

Duke said...

Maybe all states should start printing currency, tell Washington they wont give any more to them.

Sixbears said...

Thanks! That's a bit of history I had no idea of. Never saw such a bill.

Would not surprise me to see states printing their own money again from state owned banks. That might solve a few budget problems.

JOJO said...

Great post. Another lesson on the books from our wonderful teacher. Very interesting to.

Modern Day Redneck said...

I would love to have one for my collection.

John said...

Very interesting. Coffee inside this morning. 15 degrees out.

Marie said...

Wow--I had never heard about this. I do think that it's a brilliant think-ahead plan, and am glad that it was never needed. Better to have them and not need them than to need them and not have them... :) Thanks for the info!

HermitJim said...

Hey Kenlowder...
I'm sure that the folks living there stayed on edge for a long time during the war!

Probably keeping one of the bills is a good way to hang on to some of their history!

Thanks so much for coming by today!

Hey Duke...
I don't think the government would ever allow that! If they can't control the flow, they won't let anyone else!

I'm surprised that they haven't come up with a government script like the military during the war!

Thanks for coming over for a visit this morning!

Hey Sixbears...
This was something I didn't know about.

What a nightmare for the fedgov if states did start printing their own money again!

Thanks for dropping by this morning!

Hey JoJo...
I'm sure glad you liked it, my dear friend!

You stay warm up there and thanks for coming over, sweetie!

Hey Redneck...
Many of us would like to have one or two! I know I would!

Never saw one until I read this article!

Thanks for the visit this morning!

Hey John...
15 degrees? That's certainly reason enough to stay inside!

I don't do well in the cold!

Thanks, my friend, for coming over today!

HermitJim said...

Hey Marie...
At least they were making a plan! Like I was saying, there were probably so many things that happened during the war that we don't know about!

Stuff like this makes history so much fun!

I sure aqppreciate the visit!

Dizzy-Dick said...

Actually the article said they were over printed which means they used regular US currancy and just stamped the states name on them. Even so, they would be a collector's dream. I would like to have some.

Dizzy-Dick said...

Oh, I forgot, check the date on the bills.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting!
I had no idea this had happened but as You say I can understand why. I would sure like to have one of those now :-)

Have a great day!

Cat Melton said...

Hey Jim!
Just stopping in to say hello. I am glad to see you are still providing wonderful tidbits here on your blog. Hope all is well with you, as it is with me.

Take care, friend!


HermitJim said...

Hey Dizzy...
I wouldn't mind having a couple myself!

Thanks for dropping in today!

Hey Christer...
Isn't it fun to find out some new interesting facts about history?

I do so enjoy it!

Thanks so much for coming over today!

Hey Cat...
So good to see you again! I hope all is going well with you!

Sure glad you are enjoying all the tidbits here! I'll try and keep you entertained!

Thanks for visiting today, my friend!