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This informal talk reviews three moments in the history of the US when race and money were explicitly intertwined in political rhetoric, with implications for the infrastructures that facilitate payment. Payment is central to market economies, yet its technical and legal details go largely unnoticed -- except in periods of crisis and change. In the US, changes in payment systems have been accompanied by political projects of racial exclusion or the hardening of racial hierarchy. Maurer will review the post-Civil War debate over greenbacks together with colonial expansion and racialized payment; the Federal Reserve's project to end non-par clearance of checks; and contemporary interest in cryptocurrencies to illustrate this point.