Pieces of Eight


Discovery of Spanish coins buried in a field in Carroll County though unusual, is not explicable.  Spanish gold was common enough in Kentucky, almost as common as English in the early days of our country, before the State's admission to the Union.

The Carrollton Democrat recounts that the dates of Spanish coins range from 1776 to 1793, while, according to account, there were a few pieces of money bearing date of 1800.

Spanish intrigue was almost a part of daily life of Kentuckians for a number of years before the separation from Virginia and the echoes of the trouble did not die down until Jefferson's second term was half done.  Naturally Spanish gold accomplished it.

Gen. James Wilkerson [Wikipedia], whom history has given an unsavory name despite his gallantry during the Revolution, was the first resident of this State to open negotiations with the Spanish.  In 1786 he went on his first trip down the Ohio and Mississippi with Kentucky produce, sold it there and made a compact with the Spaniards which later was to disrupt the entire State.

For the produce Wilkinson sold he returned thousands of Spanish dollars to the farmers of Kentucky.  History records that he was regularly on the payroll of Colonel Miro, the Spanish Governor of Louisiana, and obtained considerable sums, after he took the oath of allegiance to the King of Spain in 1787, ostensibly with which to bribe Kentucky leaders in the plot to separate Kentucky from the United States.

There were two distinct Spanish plots working at the same time - that of Miro and Wilkerson and that of Gardoqui, the Spanish minister at Philadelphia, who made advances through John Brown, one of the members of the famous Danville Political Club, seeking to induce Kentucky to declare her independence and holding out the opening of the Mississippi to Kentucky as a navigation price.  Gardoqui was also working to establish colonies of Americans in Spanish territory to form a bulwark between the United States and Mexico and Louisiana and it is reasonable to assume that much Spanish money found its was to Kentucky during that time.  The possession of Spanish money, of course, did not necessarily imply dishonesty or participated in either the Spanish conspiracy or the colonization scheme, since foreign coins were accepted as legal tender until the United States Mint started turning out dollars in great quantity.


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