[Editor's note: The following is a cross post by Rob Wile that originally appeared on Business Insider]:

A $1 trillion-dollar coin seems like a high denomination to ask the government to print. Some say its weight could sink the Titanic! (This is benightedly ludicrous).

But one time, the U.S. government actually got 1/10,000,000th of the way there — by printing a $100,000 bill.

And it really helped the economy.

The year was 1933. We were in the midst of a worldwide depression characterized by massive deflation.

Business Insider: The True Story Of The Time The Government Printed A $100,000 Bill

St. Louis Fed

President Roosevelt ordered Americans to surrender any gold they held to the government.

Business Insider: The True Story Of The Time The Government Printed A $100,000 Bill

Wikimedia

The reason: no one was buying anything with cash.

Business Insider: The True Story Of The Time The Government Printed A $100,000 Bill

Library of Congress

Gold hoarding and bartering were also reducing the amount of funds flowing into the government.

Business Insider: The True Story Of The Time The Government Printed A $100,000 Bill

Library of Congress

Americans agreed to surrender their gold, but it wasn’t enough…

Business Insider: The True Story Of The Time The Government Printed A $100,000 Bill

St. Louis Fed

…Because Roosevelt also agreed to bail out the banks. That was good news for consumers but bad news for currency control.

Business Insider: The True Story Of The Time The Government Printed A $100,000 Bill

Wikimedia

So Roosevelt proposed the Treasury take over the Federal Reserve’s gold supplies.

Business Insider: The True Story Of The Time The Government Printed A $100,000 Bill

By Infrogmation on flickr

The pluses: Once the federal government controlled all the gold, it could better enforce its plans to devalue the dollar (thus reflating the economy).

Business Insider: The True Story Of The Time The Government Printed A $100,000 Bill

Library of Congress

The costs: end of Fed independence.

Business Insider: The True Story Of The Time The Government Printed A $100,000 Bill

Library of Congress

Fed Chairman Gene Black was sympathetic but wary. He advised the decision was best left up to Congress.

Business Insider: The True Story Of The Time The Government Printed A $100,000 Bill

(Gene Black, left, with David Ben Gurion, Wikimedia)

Congress took up the measure in January 1933. The Democrat-controlled Senate — a first since World War I — helped get the measure passed Jan. 31.

Business Insider: The True Story Of The Time The Government Printed A $100,000 Bill

Library of Congress

The Gold Reserve Act of 1934 set a new federal exchange rate for gold at $35, but only for the purposes of foreign exchange.

Business Insider: The True Story Of The Time The Government Printed A $100,000 Bill

New York Times

It also allowed the Treasury to print bills to pay for the Federal Reserve’s gold.

Business Insider: The True Story Of The Time The Government Printed A $100,000 Bill

Library of Congress

And one of them was worth $100,000. (It had Woodrow Wilson on the face).

Business Insider: The True Story Of The Time The Government Printed A $100,000 Bill

Wikimedia

Spoiler alert: It worked.

Business Insider: The True Story Of The Time The Government Printed A $100,000 Bill

EconomistView

©2013 Business Insider, Inc, Rob Wile.

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