The name of an executive order issued by President Andrew Jackson on July 11, 1836, which stated that all federal lands must be purchased with gold or silver (considered hard currency, that is, currency that is expected to remain stable) and not paper money (considered soft currency, that is, currency that could wildly fluctuate in value frequently) The purpose behind the act was twofold; first, to decrease the amount of paper money in circulation, and second, to curb the amount of land speculation that was occurring in the West. The passage of the Indian Removal Act of 1830 opened up lands in the West to settlers, but much of this land was purchased by land speculators looking to resell the land for profit to unsuspecting settlers at inflated prices. Many settlers took advantage of this opportunity, resulting in an excess of land mortgaged by state banks. However, the banks did not have the gold or silver to back up the paper money and this led to the economic Panic of 1837.
Related: specie (n.): money in the form of coin (as opposed to paper).