End of the United States Bank


The year 1811 marks not only the end of the peace administration but also the winding up of the United States Bank. In 1808 the directors of this institution memorialized Congress for a renewal of the charter, and the subject was referred to Gallatin, who made an elaborate report, March 2, 1809, in favor of the bank. He suggested some changes by which it might be more useful to the government, such as requiring the payment of interest on government deposits when in excess of $3,000.000, and the adoption of a regulation that the bank should loan to the government at any time a sum not to exceed 60 per cent, of its capital. Gallatin enumerated the advantages derived by the government from the bank, in its safe-keeping of the public deposits, in the collection of the revenues, in the transmission of public moneys, in the facilities granted to importers, and in loans that had been made to the government, in all amounting to $6,200,000. In Congress there was strong opposition to renewal of the charter; the,' numerous State banks established since 1790 had a diligent eye to their own interest. In 1790 there were but three such banks; in 1800 there were 28 with a capital of $21,300,000, and, in 1811, 88 with a capital of $42,600,000.

The United States Bank was also unpopular because of the large foreign holdings in the bank's stock, amounting to 18,000 shares out of a total of 25,000 ; this use of foreign capital was construed to be a large foreign tribute in dividends; and, though foreign stockholders could not vote, indirectly they could exert a " malignant influence." The extravagant character of this opposition was summed up by Senator Crawford in the following language: " The member who dares to give his opinion in favor of the renewal of the charter is instantly charged with being bribed by the agents of the bank, with being corrupt, with having trampled upon the rights and liberties of the people, with having sold the sovereignty of the United States to foreign capitalists, with being guilty of perjury by having violated the Constitution." The constitutionality of the bank was once more questioned, and the mere fact that Gallatin and his followers could find any merit at all in what was originally regarded as a federal invention only strengthened the purpose of some of the Republicans who held grudges against the administration.

In all the writings and speeches called forth by the contest there was little economic analysis or criticism; the bank was regarded as an undemocratic, political institution; or as an institution helpful in centralizing the forces of a weak government. The bill for renewal was finally lost in the Senate, February 20, 1811, by the deciding vote of the vice-president, George Clinton. It then became necessary for the government to turn to local banks for the custody of its funds. In 1812 twenty-one local institutions were employed, chiefly in the principal ports of entry, so that the collectors might have agents at command with whom the duty bonds of importers were placed for collection.

Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: End of the United States Bank
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Financial history of the United States by Davis Rich Dewey, PH.D., LL.D., Fourth Edition; Longmans, Green, and Co. 1912
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