Paper Money of Chihuahua

.. by Simon Prendergast

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Home The History Withdrawal of the Ejército Constitucionalista notes

Withdrawal of the Ejército Constitucionalista notes

To encourage their withdrawal from circulation on 27 October 1914 Carranza decreed that in all payments that were made for any reason to public offices at least one-half had to be made in notes issued by the Ejército Constitutionalista.

During 1915 the number of Ejército Constitucionalista notes in circulation must have gradually decreased as, presumably, when the federal offices accepted them in payment they would have refrained from putting them back into circulation.

On 21 July 1915 the Constitutionalist Secretario de Hacienda, at Veracruz, declared that unification of the currency was the most important step to restoring monetary stability. This could be accomplished by withdrawing the old paper currency from circulation and replacing it with a new paper currency. After Carranza authorised the infalsificable issue on 21 July 1915, he therefore made provisions for the withdrawal of the old Ejército Constitucionalista and Veracruz Gobierno Provisional currency. These two are usually mentioned together in any decree, though sometimes only the Veracruz is specified and at other times, when mention is made of fifty and one hundred pesos Ejército Constitucionalista notes it is obvious that the reference is intended to be to the Veracruz.

When one considers that the Ejército Constitucionalista notes had been in circulation for two years, and that both factions had been offering to retire them since late 1914, one realise that in comparison to the numerous Veracruz in existence they must have been comparatively scarce. This is confirmed by reports from various municipalitiesIn August 1916 the Cananea Consolidated Copper Company had only $800 in old currency (                       ). In Chihuahua the Governor included the Ejército Constitucionalista as an afterthought in his draft of a decree and just one case of many concerning the refusal to accept old legal tender involved an Ejército Constitucionalista note (AMC, Fondo Revolución, Sección Justicia, Año 1916, caja 3, expedientes 2-4)..

Much of the following legislation, therefore, will have been academic as far as the Ejército Constitucionalista notes were concerned. For the student of numismatics the following is also of little interest as none of the legislation is reflected in the appearance of the notes as is the case with the resellos. It is included merely to round off the picture.

On 31 March 1916 Carranza wrote to all the state governors and jefes políticos ordering them to publicise that the old Constitutionalist currency would remain in circulation until 31 July and be accepted as payment for any type of local or federal taxes, even when the new infalsificables were already in circulation. They were to assure the public that his government never had any intention of disowning the old paper. Despite this there was in fact a constant fear that the government intended to repudiate the remaining Ejército Constitucionalista notes.

The withdrawal of the old money and the introduction of the new infalsicables was effected in three ways: though its receipt in payment of taxes; through the exchange of the money for provisional gold certificates; and finally through direct exchange.

The first method was through the receipt of the old money for taxes. The 27 April decree placing the infalsificables into circulation contained a provision stating that all federal, state and municipal taxes not required in national gold should for the time being continue to be made in Veracruz and Ejército Constitucionalista paper money and that this money should also be receivable for telegraph and postal fees. The decree stated that all the old money taken in by the tax offices was to be marked immediately with a stamp stating that they had been withdrawn (con un sello bien visible que indique que quedan retiradas de la circulación) and sent to the Tesorería de la Federación.

An official circular of 16 June declared that the old notes would continue to be accepted until 30 June at their nominal value in payment of taxes that were not made specifically payable in metallic money, and that they would be acceptable as equivalent to five centavos national gold per peso in payment of certain past due taxes and surtaxes in connection with mining and as the equivalent of ten centavos gold to the peso in payments of imposts which were payable in gold. An order of 23 June 1916 announced that for the fiscal year beginning 1 July, the old paper money would be accepted in payment of common revenue stamps at the rate of ten pesos of the old money to one peso of the new infalsificable money.

On 28 June a tax department decree stated in what kinds of money the taxes for the new fiscal year would be payable, some only in gold, some in metallic money or its equivalent in infalsificables (20 centavos national gold to the peso), some exclusively in infalsificables, and some in infalsificables or their equivalent in Veracruz or Ejército Constitucionalista money at the rate of ten to one.

Carranza decreed on 31 May 1916, that from 5 June, the $20, $50 and $100 notes would be retired from circulation, but that such notes would be accepted during the remainder of the year in payment of obligations which did not require metallic money. Holders were instructed to deposit their notes with the Jefaturas de Hacienda, Administraciones Principales del Timbre, in the Comisión Monetaria and its branches or in the Tesorería General de la Nación during the months of June and July. Lower value notes and the old fractional money were to be permitted to circulate until 30 June, after which they would not be valid for private transactions but would continue to be accepted in payment of taxes where metallic payment was not required until 31 December. Those individuals who did not wish to use these notes for private transactions or for taxes were required to deposit them with the agencies mentioned above from 1 June onwards. From 1 October the Tesorería General would begin to exchange the provisional certificates of deposit of such notes for definite National gold certificates at a rate of ten centavos National gold for each paper pesoCabrera argued that any injury caused by the exchange would be temporary, that the public should wait a bit to recover the value of their money and that the government would compensate for the delay. The market value at the end of May 1916 was 4 centavos oro nacional so the certificates at 10 centavos oro nacional offered a gain of 150%, and the old money was likely to continue to depreciate (El Pueblo, 9 June 1916 ). The decree was modified on 4 September 1916 to state that the certificates would be paid in five annual payment, from 30 June 1917 to 30 June 1921 (CONDUMEX , Fondo XXI, leg. 9245), though only the first was actually paid. It has been calculated that in this way about $50,000,000 in Ejército Constitucionalista and Veracruz paper was collected (Edwin Walter Kemmerer, Inflation and Revolution: Mexico's Experience of 1912-1917, p. 192). After 31 December all Ejército Constitucionalista currency would be null and void. There was to be no direct exchange.

The markets anticipated the withdrawal of the higher values and as they were being consistently refused they were demonetarized on 3 JuneEl Pueblo, 2 June 1916..

The provisional certificates involved a lot of red tape so despite the last clause of the above decree an official order (circular núm. 97), on 5 June, authorised the various Treasury departments for five days to give to ‘the poorer classes’ infalsificable notes in exchange for Veracruz or Ejército Constitucionalista notes at the rate of one new peso for eight old in sums not exceeding 100 pesos. This rate represented a concession to the poorer classes since it was more favourable than the general rate of one to ten.

Due to the continuing scarcity of small denomination currency, the government issued an order on 10 June providing that $1, $2, $5 and $10 notes of the old currency should continue in circulation at a fixed rate of ten to one in relation to infalsificables, and that at this rate, the former, as also the fractional cardboard currency, should be exchangeable for the latter in unlimited quantities. The circulation of the old higher values was discontinued at once, although these notes were to be accepted on deposit in exchange for provisional gold certificates until 31 July (this date was extended to 31 August, by a decree of 2 August), and were to be acceptable until further orders by railroads in payment for freight and passenger service. The above dispensations were modified by a decree of 28 June which declared that the new infalsificable currency should be established as soon as possible, discontinued the circulation of the old $10 notes and the fractional cardboard currency after 30 June, and ordered the Treasury offices throughout the country to give infalsificables in exchange for this money at the rate of one for ten until August 30. The same order extended until 31 October the legal circulation of lower value Veracruz and Ejército Constitucionalista money (by a decree of 16 October, the date was extended until 30 November), but limited their legal tender quality to a ten to one basis to payments not exceeding twenty pesos infalsificables: in other words, made them limited legal tender fractional money equivalent to fifty, twenty and ten centavos respectively of infalsificable money. This order also provided for their redemption at Treasury offices throughout the Republic in infalsificable money at the rate of ten to one. It reaffirmed the privilege given to the public by the decree of 31 May of exchanging this money at the rate of ten to one for provisional gold certificates. The decree of 16 October extended the period to 31 January 1917.

All these decree led to government edicts and circulars in the various states, either repeating Carranza’s decrees or attempting to enforce acceptance of the rapidly depreciating notes.

Thus, on 30 April 1916, the Governor of San Luis Potosí, Federico Chapoy, had to reassure people that the government was not going to repudiate the old money and that it would be accepted  in payment of local and federal taxes until the end of the yearPeriódico Oficial, 10 May 1916.

On 8 May, because businesses were refusing to accept the $5 and $10 Ejército Constitucionalista and Gobierno Provisional (Veracruz) issues, the Presidencia Municipal of Guadalajara, Jalisco, ordered that all the $1 and $2 notes were collected from government shops and offices so that they could be used to exchange the $5 and $10 notesPeriódico Oficial, San Luis Potosí, 13 May 1916.

By 7 June people in Querétaro were refusing the five and ten peso Ejército Constitucionalista and Veracruz, sometimes claiming not to have change and other times simply refusing to accept them and Governor Federico Montes had to issue another warning.

On 25 June the Secretaría de Hacienda announced that of the 250 million pesos of the Veracruz and Ejército Constitucionalista issues that had so far been collected fifty million were ready to be incinerated. These were on view in the offices of the Comisión Monetaria and the incinerations would be carried out daily in the Oficinas Impresoras de HaciendaLa Tribuna, 26 July 1916. Up to 30 September 1916 $176,946,300 in Ejército Constitucionalista and Veracruz paper had been destroyed, and from then until 12 October another $37,458,450 was destroyed, making a total of $214,404,750El Demócrata, 13 October 1916.

Retirado de la circulación

The money that was withdrawn was marked accordingly. On 5 May 1916 the Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público instructed Oficinas Recaudadores to keep only whatever Gobierno Provisional and Ejército Constitucionalista was absolutely necessary for their immediate use and to collect the rest in the Jefatura de Hacienda and marked it with an official seal stating ‘Retirado de la circulación’Periódico Oficial, Durango, 20 May 1916 letter from R. Nieto to governor of Durango.

A few such overprints are known, resulting either from this or later instructions (such as those of 27 April 1916 or 6 June 1916). All the overprinted notes are $1 values.

Michoacán

A bold three line overprint ‘MICHOACAN DE OCAMPO/TESORERIA GENERAL/RETIRADO’ in blue, red, green or purple. Also known with misprint RERIRADO in red.

This overprint is also known on a $2 Banco Minero note. It was presumably misplaced among a pile of notes being overprinted.

Sonora

On 6 May 1916 the Secretaria de Hacienda instructed the Recaudadores in Sonora to retain only as much of the old issues as they needed for their immediate costs and to collect the rest in the Jefatura de Hacienda of the state, marked ‘RETIRADO DE CIRCULACION’.

Nuevo León

At a meeting of the Monterrey town council on 8 May 1916 they discussed Carranza’s decree that doubled all taxes for two months to help redeem the national debt (deuda Nacional), retiring all the notes received in the tax offices (Oficinas Recaudadores) with a stamp 'Retirado de la circulación'AMM, Colección Actas de Cabildo, volumen 102, exp. 1916/016.

On 6 June 1916 the Secretaría de Hacienda at Monterrey sent a telegram that Oficinas Recaudadores should only keep whatever Gobierno Provisional and Ejército Constitucionalista was indispensible for their immediate needs, collecting the rest in the Jefatura de Hacienda and marking it with an office stamp stating ‘Retirado de la circulatión’ANL, exp. 125.