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Pennsylvania Credit in the Virginia Backcountry, 1746–1755


This essay investigates economic connections between Virginia frontier settlements and Pennsylvania during the period 1746–55. We explore how frontier debtors in remote Augusta County, Virginia, acquired Pennsylvania monetary obligations, what happened when debts involving Pennsylvania money were litigated in Augusta County, and what exchange rate was used in judgments for debts denominated in Pennsylvania money. We find that fluctuations in Augusta County exchange rates correlated to the overall regional market for monetary exchanges involving pounds sterling and Pennsylvania or Virginia money. A statistical tool called the two-tailed student t-test indicates the correlation was not the result of random chance. We therefore conclude that ordinary settlers in the Virginia backcountry were thoroughly acquainted with Pennsylvania market conditions at an earlier period than previously has been recognized.