Jim Brown

From Ohio History Central

Jim Brown was a counterfeiter who took advantage of the economic situation in Ohio during the 1810s. The Ohio legislature chartered numerous banks in the first two decades of the 1800s. Other unchartered banks also existed within the state. These various banks printed large amounts of paper money. The appearance of the money varied widely from bank to bank, making it very difficult to tell if a legitimate bank had actually issued the money. Brown, a resident of Boston, Ohio, sold various businesses counterfeit bills that the businesses would then use to make change for their customers. Brown typically sold five thousand dollars worth of counterfeit bills for one thousand dollars in legitimate money. Eventually Brown tried to expand his operation beyond Ohio to the entire country. He was arrested in New Orleans, Louisiana, before his scheme truly took off. Once released from jail, Brown returned to Boston, Ohio. His neighbors overlooked his past transgressions and elected him as a justice of the peace. Most Ohioans during this time period did not frown on counterfeiting. It actually helped poorer Ohioans to get money, whether real or fake, into their hands to pay bills.

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