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Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

NUMBER: 1208
AUTHOR: Oliver Taylor
QUOTATION: “Not worth a Continental dam” had its origin about this time [1780]. It is not a profane expression. A “dam” is an Indian coin of less value than one cent and a Continental one cent was next to worthless when it took six pounds, or about thirty dollars to buy a “warm dinner.”
ATTRIBUTION: OLIVER TAYLOR, Historic Sullivan, p. 97, footnote (1909).

Other versions of this phrase include “Not worth a Continental” and “Not worth a Continental Damn.” While other writers do not include the Indian connection, they agree the phrase arose when Continental money became worthless toward the end of the Revolution. See Mitford M. Mathews, A Dictionary of Americanisms, p. 383 (1951).