Republic of Texas "Redback" Currency
The Republic of Texas used several different forms of currency during its existence. The library has a substantial collection of currencies of the Republic, as well as Confederate and U.S. currency.
The most commonly used money during the period was issued by the Republic. On June 12, 1837, the Republic, under Pres. Sam Houston, passed an act that allowed the issue of $500,000 of promissory notes.
According to the Handbook of Texas Online, these notes “bore 10% interest, and were payable twelve months from date.” These notes were called “Star Money” because of the small star on the face of the note.
In December of 1837, the Republic authorized $10,000 of “change notes” (notes in smaller denominations). These notes had no interest and were able to be redeemed for notes with larger denominations.
Pres. Mirabeau Lamar issued a new type of money, called “redbacks.” The name came from the reddish color of the back of the bills. This money came in denominations of $5, $10, $20, $100 and $500. Change notes also existed. When first introduced, “redbacks” had a value of 37½ cents to the U.S. dollar. Eventually, the value went to two cents.
The Republic was plagued with money troubles throughout its existence. Though rich in land and national resources, the Republic had to import most manufactured goods. This dependence on imports depleted the Republic’s gold and silver supply, since all imported goods had to be paid for with these materials. The Republic was also greatly affected by the United States’ bank panic of 1837, which had lasting effects until around 1845. The Republic was in great need of the United States’ economic assistance that came with annexation in 1845.