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In the Classroom > Course Overview > Unit Overview > Lesson 8
Lesson 8
About account Books

Mutual indebtedness was the rule in early America. Because there was little hard cash available, each transaction for goods and services was carefully recorded in account books with a monetary value assigned to it. The abilities to read, write, and cipher (do basic math) were essential for those who kept account books. There were several types of account books: ledgers, daybooks, blotters, and waste books. In a ledger, the item purchased or the service given is listed and a monetary value attached to it. The monetary value is listed in three columns -- pounds, shillings, and pence -- until some time between 1790 and 1800, when "dollars" and "cents" began to replace the English system. On the page opposite is recorded the "Contra" (method of payment). Rarely is the payment in cash, but more often true value in goods useful to the seller, or in labor. Some accounts were settled regularly, while others were not reconciled for months, or even years.


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