A Classification of American Wealth
History and genealogy of the wealthy families of America - Sponsors

 Part 1 : Colonial and Mercantile America  Part 2 : America in the Gilded Age
 Part 3 : America in the Twentieth Century  Encyclopedia of American Wealth

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   Part II-Chapter 5 : Bankers I  > Index and Introduction  :  « Previous  1 - 2 - 3 Next »

The Second Bank of the United States was an even larger institution than the first, with a capital of $ 35 million, of which again the government held 20% paid for in government securities. In its early years, the bank knew mixed fortunes, first during the presidency of the expansive William Jones, then as a reaction through the more contractive attitude of its second president Langdon Cheeves. It’s real success came under the presidency of the brilliant Nicholas Biddle, the progeny scion of a wealthy Philadelphia family. Nicholas Biddle guided the Second National Bank from 1823 through to the repeal of its charter in 1836 and then continued to operate it under a Pennsylvania State charter for several years. Using the bank’s privilege to operate branches in many states, Biddle built the institution into the most powerful banking house of the United States of America. Overly eager to get its charter extended without conditions, Biddle let the charter renewal issue become a challenge for the re-election of Andrew Jackson. The latter never forgave and the attacked the bank on issues ranging from anti-constitutionality to outright monopoly charges. It’s charter failing to be renewed, the Second Bank of the United States was continued for some time under a Pennsylvania State charter but eventually failed, notably due to Biddle’s more speculative management of its affairs.

Well aware that banking was a very special and obviously profitable business, the leading Federalists, notably in New York, were particularly conservative in the chartering of new banks. As Hamilton and his Federalist cronies controlled the Bank of New York, the state’s Republicans, under the guidance of Hamilton’s political foe Aaron Burr used a stratagem to get their chartered bank. The Manhattan Company was created in 1799 to supply New York City with clean water. Among the bylaws in its charter was the possibility to use its capital for banking operations. Thus was born one of the forerunners of the famous Chase Manhattan Bank of New York. In a similar way, the Chemical Bank, an outgrowth of the Chemical Manufacturing Company, was brought into existence in a similar manner. It’s co-founders, the famous Goelet brothers, were among the city’s leading real estate owners.

In subsequent years many other banks were chartered in New York and in other cities, bringing the total of chartered banks in the USA to 824 by 1850 and 1562 just before Civil War. Most of these institutions were rather small, but some of them were already then solid financial institutions, whose financial power was a key factor in the rapid expansion which characterized the Gilded Age, the period of fast economic growth and wealth concentration that followed the American Civil War. Most prominent among these early chartered banks to emerge was the City Bank of New York, which had become the preferred financial institution of New York’s leading merchant class, under the able guidance of its president and chief stockholder, Moses Taylor.

Bankers I  > Index and Introduction  :    « Previous  1 - 2 - 3 Next »   

Patroons and Manor Lords

Planter  Aristocrats

Shipping Merchants

The Landlords of New YorkCity

Bankers I

Early American Industrialists


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