Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Old US Mint, New Orleans, 1835

Blogger's Note: Built in 1835, and the only US building in America to have served both as a US and a Confederate Mint, the Old US Mint in New Orleans is a building with a lot of history. Here is a brief history of the role the US Mint in New Orleans played in building a foundation for our country.

The Old US Mint building, found at the corner of Decatur and Esplanade near the French Market, was erected in 1835 as a branch of the United States Mint. The New Orleans Mint once turned out coin at a rate of $5 million a month, and the coinage was identified by a small "O" on the face of the coin.

President Andrew Jackson signed legislature establishing the US Mint in New Orleans in order to help finance development of the United State’s western frontier.   Gold funneled through New Orleans from the Mexico border, and coinage was struck to be sent to the ever-expanding American West.  Without the US Mint in New Orleans, our nation would not have been able to keep up with this increasing western demand.

The Mint operated from 1838 to 1862. During the Civil War, the Mint was captured and used to coin confederate currency. When federal forces captured New Orleans in 1862, William B. Mumford was hanged in front of the Mint for tearing down the United States flag. After the Civil War, the Mint was put back into operation from 1879 to 1910.

When the Mint ceased operating, it remained a vacant property until 1932 when the United States Coast Guard moved in and used the building as a federal prison.  Today the Mint houses a Mardi Gras & Jazz museum, and it's grounds host many local festivals such as Satchmo Summerfest and parts of the French Quarter Festival.