The year 1787 saw America flooded with counterfeit copper coins. Most of these underweight coins were made in England, but some were struck in the United States. Many states had begun their own coinage production. Among them were Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York and the Republic of Vermont. Facing an urgent need to take action, the Continental Congress of the Confederation passed a resolution on April 21, 1787 for the contracted coining of an American copper cent.

This national coin would borrow its image from the February 17, 1776 issue of fractional Continental Currency and the 1776 Continental Currency "Dollar." The devices and the legend had been created back then by Benjamin Franklin, and were a popular choice for the new one cent coin. The obverse features the sun and a sundial with the legend: FUGIO (I fly), the date (1787) and the legend "MIND YOUR BUSINESS." The reverse displays 13 linked circles with the legends, "WE ARE ONE" and "UNITED STATES." Because of these features, the Fugio Cent is sometimes known as the Franklin Cent.

Jarvis and Company, using copper from United States military stores, minted this cent in New Haven, Connecticut. A story (apocryphal?) has emerged that copper bands from powder kegs supplied to the Continental Army by the French government (during the Revolution) was the source for much of the copper used to mint these cents. The "Congress Coppers" saw circulation mostly in New England and the Mid-Atlantic region. They are a historic items with ties not only to the birth of the United States, but to perhaps the most famous man in the world in the latter half of the 18th century, Benjamin Franklin.