Cat. 24

Wisconsin Constitution of 1846

Curator Commentary

Before the Civil War, the United States did not have a national printed currency. State legislatures permitted hundreds of private and state-chartered banks to issue their own paper notes that allowed citizens to conduct daily transactions. Unfortunately, these banks often engaged in irresponsible practices that caused great hardships.

In 1846, Wisconsin’s first proposed constitution would have banned banks and even restricted the circulation of paper money. Voters found these measures too extreme and refused to accept them. Consequently, the constitution adopted in 1848 required the state government to refer any proposed banking laws to the people for approval.

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