“No, no, not a sixpence, sir!” responded Charles Cotesworth Pinckney come France’s demand for tribute. Pinckney, in addition to Elbridge Gerry and John Marshall, was sent out to France in 1797 by President man Adams to shot to negotiate an end to French strikes on American ships.

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As news the the French need spread throughout America, “Millions because that defense, but not one cent because that tribute” eventually ended up being the publicly rallying cry together anti-French feel grew. But, contrary to what some difficult Times token and historical references say, it was no Charles Pinckney who very first spoke the renowned phrase.

Hard times Tokens

Hard times token collectors are acquainted with this slogan since it appears on countless different varieties of satirical tokens dated 1837 and 1841. Return the spelling of "defence" might look strange come today"s Americans, this to be the suitable spelling at the time. The history surrounding the “Not One Cent” tokens renders them very desirable come collectors, yet the rarity of each range ranges from very common to the exceptionally rare (i.e. 2 to 3 examples known). Thus, the “Not One Cent” group of tokens has something because that everyone.


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Major GeneralCharles Pinckney

Lyman low Catalog

In 1899, Lyman low cataloged the hard Times tokens recognized to that at that time, number is numbered them native 1 come 183. Part collectors still only collect the initial 183 tokens cataloged by Low. Later the short numbers were expanded to include extr tokens. Today, hard Times tokens are generally cataloged under an HT number system devised by Russell Rulau in his publication Hard time Tokens 1832-1844.

Many ranges of the “Not One Cent” tokens have actually both obverses and reverses the are similar to those uncovered on the large cent the the time. Others have obverses that reflect the an excellent political issues of the day. The is claimed that in stimulate to protect against charges the counterfeiting, the phrase “NOT ONE CENT” to be emphasized ~ above the turning back of these tokens.

America’s first Undeclared War

Although most world know that France was our ally towards the end of the Revolutionary War, what they don’t know is that just a few years later, France likewise became our foe in our very first undeclared war against another country. France experienced its own revolution in 1789 that overthrew the monarchy.


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Library of conference Image

In 1797, France was run by a group of 5 men well-known as The Directory. The catalog wanted the United claims to be an allied of your in a battle against good Britain. George Washington, ~ above the other hand, wanted the United says to stay neutral. In 1794, the United says signed Jay’s contract with great Britain i beg your pardon angered France. The French, in turn, unleashed their navy and privateers ~ above American shipping.

Demand because that Tribute

It was these events that led Pinckney and also the others to travel to France to shot to attend to the French grievances. Once they acquired to France lock were maintained waiting through the French international Minister Talleyrand.

During this time, they to be approached by 3 individuals, later identified as X, Y, and also Z in documents. Messengers X, Y, and Z educated the American party that before any kind of negotiations might begin, the United claims would need to pay the five members the The brochure $50,000 each and pay tribute come France in the type of a $10,000,000 loan. These needs are what prompted Pinckney’s “not a sixpence” response.


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Robert Goodloe Harper(Painting by St. Mémin)

Pinckney’s not the Man

The background regarding the origin of the “millions for defense, yet not one cent because that tribute” phrase has actually been somewhat controversial end the years. From soon after Pinckney’s trip to France, until reasonably recently, Pinckney was given credit for providing this “not one cent” reply to the French.

Pinckney self is claimed to have actually denied ever before uttering the expression in ar of his “not a sixpence” response. In one October 1797 letter native Pinckney to Timothy Pickering, Pinckney composed that he had actually replied to the French with the “not a sixpence” phrase.

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So wherein did the phrase “Millions for defense, however not one cent because that tribute” come from?

It"s Harper!

Shortly after return from France, man Marshall, who would eventually end up being the fourth Chief justice of the U.S. Can be fried Court, to be honored at a dinner in Philadelphia top top the night the June 18, 1798. Representative Robert Goodloe Harper of south Carolina, Chairman that the methods and means Committee, was among those current at the dinner. Charles Pinckney was also present.