Executive Order 6102 – Gold’s Historical Warning to Bitcoin

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  • Executive Order 6102, signed in 1933, forbade the “hoarding” of gold by private U.S. citizens
  • Some citizens had been holding large amounts of gold to stave off the effects of the Great Depression
  • Bitcoin advocates have warned that the government could come for your Bitcoin in a similar way

Executive Order 6102 may not mean much to Bitcoin holders, but the 1933 ruling remains one of the most prescient reasons for its creation 89 years later. The executive order, signed into law by president Franklin D. Roosevelt, forbade the “hoarding” of all types of gold in the United States, forcing citizens to hand over huge amounts of their gold holdings to the state and enforcing ownership limitations for the next 41 years.
The event stands as a warning from history about the powers of the state and a reminder of the importance of Bitcoin in the fight for personal freedom.


Executive Order 6102 Forced Gold Holders to Sell

The background for Executive Order 6102 was that the hoarding of gold had exacerbated the impact of the Great Depression of 1929, stalling economic growth and making the depression worse. In an attempt to spur the economy back into growth, Roosevelt ordered that “all persons are required to deliver…all gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates” they owned to the Federal Reserve at a fixed price of $20.67 per troy ounce.
In truth the order wasn’t exactly as strict as it sounded – up to $100 in gold coins could be retained, and professions that used gold were exempt – but the principle behind it was clear; the government was coming for your gold, and they could put you in prison if you refused.

Despite the fact that most people complied with the Executive Order 6102, the notion that the state could come after your perfectly legal investments and force you to swap for cash at their chosen rate of exchange came as a deep shock.

Bitcoin’s Superior Model

Some Bitcoin supporters have warned that Bitcoin could be treated in the same way if it gets too big for the U.S. government’s liking. Of course, Bitcoin’s nature makes it much harder for the government to enforce such an act, but, as we have seen in the past, when it has reason to do so, the government certainly can come for your Bitcoin.

In many ways Bitcoin’s creation can be seen as a direct rebuke of what many considered an overreach of the US Government’s power in 1933. Fears about a repeat of such policies have endured ever since, and with the world on the verge of another depression that could, some predict, be worse than we saw in 1929, can we really rule out a return of such action by a desperate administration?

Will We See a Repeat of 1933?

Confiscating citizens’ wealth may be unthinkable now, especially because the government can, and has, promised to print as much money as it needs, but don’t forget that what is unthinkable now was without precedent in 1933. However, thanks to Executive Order 6102, we now have a precedent for the sudden confiscation of personal wealth.

Fortunately, we also have Bitcoin.