Our Threatened Freedom

What Is Legal Tender? (03:23)

R.J. Rushdoony


R.J. Rushdoony: 00:00 What is legal tender? This is R.J. Rushdoony with a report on Our Threatened Freedom.

R.J. Rushdoony: 00:08 The term legal tender refers to money, and it defines lawful money which is valid for all debts, public and private. Our paper money carries the term legal tender on its face. And yet the term was once denounced by a great American as a fraud.

R.J. Rushdoony: 00:28 The reverend John Witherspoon, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, declared that legal tender was a way of requiring by law that bad money or bad checks or paper money be accepted as valid. If money is good money, no law is needed to make men accept it. If the money is bad and depreciating, men will try to hold their assets in other ways.

R.J. Rushdoony: 00:56 Another great American, Noah Webster, attacked the legal tender doctrine in 1790 with these words, and I quote. “A legal tender law is the devil. When I trust a man a sum of money, I expect he will return the full value. That legislature which says my debtor may pay me with one-third of the value he received commits a deliberate act of villainy. An act for which an individual in any government would be honored with a whipping post, and in most governments with the gallows. But legislatures can, with a solemn face of rulers and guardians of justice, boldly give currency to an adulterated coin, enjoin it upon debtors to cheat their creditors, and enforce their systematic knavery with legal penalties. The difference between the man who makes and passes counterfeit money and the man who renders his creditor one-third of the value of the debt and demands a discharge is the same as between a thief and a robber. My countrymen, the devil is among you.”

R.J. Rushdoony: 02:10 Many other great Americans held this view, as for example, Patrick Henry. Daniel Webster held up the idea of legal tender is alien to the Constitution, which defines money as gold and silver.

R.J. Rushdoony: 02:24 Now, what was once the Constitutional and moral view of money is no longer heard in high places. Our view of money has changed, because our perspective is stated, not moral. The idea now is that money is good because the Federal Government tells us it is. This is the legal tender concept.

R.J. Rushdoony: 02:49 The Founding Fathers, however, held a contrary view. Money, they believed, is good only if it is good money, gold or silver, a recognized value. For them, a State ordained legal tender was bad money, and the worst kind of bad money. We’ve come a long way from their opinion and the difference spells a loss of freedom.

R.J. Rushdoony: 03:18 This has been R.J. Rushdoony with a report on Our Threatened Freedom.

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965.  His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.”  He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.

Learn more about R.J. Rushdoony by visiting: https://chalcedon.edu/founder