Paper money has a rich and unique place in the history of the United States. The American Colonies were the first governmental bodies to issue paper money in the Western world. Previous experiments with paper money had occurred in Europe from the 1660's, but all had been and would continue to be for the next hundred years, based on currency issued by banks, often closely tied to the government, but not the government itself.

The American Colonies became the first to issue government paper money due to a unique combination of circumstances. These circumstances came about primarily due to the unsettled and underdeveloped nature of the colonies and the prevalence of Mercantilist economic thought in the English government.