Massachusetts issued the New World’s first paper currency in 1690. With poor soldiers returning from a failed campaign against the French in Quebec, the colony found itself short on silver and copper coins to pay the men for their service. To solve the problem, the government printed bills of credit—promises of payment once the colony had collected more taxes. These slips of inked paper, deeds to a future fortune, quickly spread, offering a convenient medium of exchange for all thirteen colonies, whose reserves of precious metals were scanty and often concentrated only in the hands of the rich.