Three Cent Nickels

While the fires in Columbia were still smoldering from Sherman’s invasion through South Carolina, the citizens of Washington D.C. were preparing for President Lincoln’s second inauguration. The night before, on March 3, 1865, Congress stayed in session all night. 

Among the House deliberations was a minor bill introduced by Representative John Kasson. The most remarkable thing about this bill was not that it authorized the striking of a three-cent piece in nickel but that it was introduced to the House by Kasson, who had long opposed the use of nickel in the nation’s coinage. The nickel lobby, led by Joseph Wharton, had finally persuaded Kasson to not only support this bill but to sponsor it, and they did this by presenting nickel coinage as the lesser of two evils.