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An example of the Low #1 Hard Times token

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Earlier in the week there was a thread that featured some top political tokens. Here one of the top Hard Times tokens, Low #1, a.k.a. DeWitt/Sullivan number AJACK 1832-1. This piece has been the poster child for series for many years.




The reverse of this sums up the major issues of the 1832 presidential election which pitted Andrew Jackson against his arch rival and enemy, Henry Clay. The "Bank Must Perish" referred to Jackson's vow to deny The Bank of the United States a renewal of its federal charter in order the "kill the monster" as Jackson put it. Clay and his supporters pushed for a bank charter renewal two years early so that they make it a major issue in the campaign.


The other slogan, "The Union Must and Shall Be Preserved," is a bit more involved. This involved the protective tariff, which was a major bone of contention between the northern and southern states. The tariff mostly benefited northern manufacturing companies which were protected from foreign completion. To rub some salt in the wounds, those companies, without foreign competitors, were able to charge more for their goods, which they could not have done if they had had more foreign competition.


This raised the cost of living in the southern states with few benefits to the south, which made them quite angry. Their response was the nullification doctrine which held that any state could nullify any federal law that was not in that state's best interest. Many astute observers saw that this stand went deeper to the issue of slavery.


Andrew Jackson saw nullification as a direct threat to the Union. He declared that the southern states, with South Carolina at the front of the issue, would obey the protective tariff law. Jackson was prepared to use force to keep them in line in necessary. Ultimately the South backed down, but there were some tense moments before they did.


This Low #1 is far from perfect. It has some initials very lightly scratched into the obverse, but the surfaces are brown and hard no hints of corrosion, which often impairs the quality of these pieces. This piece sold at Stacks' auction years ago for $3,000, but I bought for quite a bit less, so someone did take a hit on it back then.


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