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Main Curriculum Tie:
Background For Teachers:
Intended Learning Outcomes:
Assign students to bring something worth 1 dollar to trade in class. It is important that items are very close to this same amount.
Read (or tell) the selection about William R. Palmer's father and the letter (page 37).
All students who have something are allowed to trade items with each other. No money is allowed. I would suggest that no services be allowed, and that each student be allowed only one item totaling 1 dollar.
Eventually the trading will stop as students are convinced that they cannot make a better trade. (Some will be happy with their item, others will find no one willing to trade for their item.)
At this point allow yourself, or another student, to enter the trading with a 1 dollar bill. There should be several (many) students willing to trade for the cash. Allow the bill to change hands as many times as it will.
Throw 2-3 more students with cash into the trading and see if it will stimulate more trading.
Have a class discussion about the effects of a fluid medium of exchange (cash), and why it stimulates the economy. (Ease of handling, definite value, unlimited lifespan, universal value, etc.)
Explain how the pioneer economy was stagnant. And remained so until the gradual influx of cash, generally brought in by California emigrants or U.S. soldiers, stimulated the market.
Read the selection about Ebenezer Hanks (page 38.
Assign the students to explain, in writing, the barter system, and the function of cash in the pioneer economy.
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