March 4, 2021

The United States owes Spain up to the bars of its dollars

Spain was in what is today that country almost 300 years. Not only have there been many States and cities with Spanish names, such as San Diego or Los Angeles, but references to Spain are in many US flags, shields and stamps.

As reflected in the recent report of The Hispanic Council, "The Spanish legacy in the symbols of the United States", the Cross of Burgundy, the coat of arms of Castilla y León, or the red and yellow colors are present in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas , New Mexico, Texas and many other places thanks to the deeds of Hernando de Soto, Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca or Valladolid Ponce de León. Spanish influence is also present in the most well-known American symbol: the dollar.

There are several theories about it. The most accepted is the one that ensures that this anagram, the "$", was a degeneration of the abbreviation of "weight"; that is to say «Ps», that was used to denominate the weights, piastras or pieces of to eight, that were the real ones of Spanish silver. Frequent transcription corrupted the original drawing to create the current one.

The reason is that this coin was in current use in those lands since the eighteenth century. The two letters were crossed in the accounting, so that the known symbol of "$" was created.

This is the interpretation of the United States Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Another more symbolic theory makes reference to one of the faces of the coin that was coined in the Mint of Mexico. Given the economic importance of the Spanish Empire, and the extension of trade, it circulated throughout the American continent. This mint stamped coins and ingots, those who traveled to the Motherland although many were left. In fact, despite the fact that there was a currency of its own in the United States since 1792, the Spanish silver reales were used until 1857, when the federal government prohibited their use.

In one of the faces was the shield of Spain with the Columns of Hercules, crossed by the band with the expression "Plus Ultra", derived from the slogan that was used in the Roman Empire "Non plus ultra" and "Nec plus ultra" . According to Greek mythology, Hercules had put two pillars in the Strait of Gibraltar to mark the boundary of the world. The discovery of America broke this myth and the band with this motto was incorporated into the Spanish shield.

In North American accounting the symbol of the two columns was copied with the band, says the second theory. In this way, the "Plus Ultra" would have given rise to the "S", while the two columns would be the two lines that cross it. The symbol of the dollar would have been born.

(tagsToTranslate) jorge vilches

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