Biddle's Bank: The Crucial Years

Biddle's Bank: The Crucial Years

Biddle's Bank: The Crucial Years

Biddle's Bank: The Crucial Years

Excerpt

Twentieth century historians of the Second United States Bank excel in imaginative scholarship and persuasive rhetoric. Can any student of American economic history fail to be impressed by the thoroughness and thoughtful devotion Bray Hammond has given to the subject in his Banks and Politics in America? Or is it possible to react passively to the dynamic and quick arguments of a Schlesinger? More recently, Marvin Meyers in The Jacksonian Persuasion has written with impressive insight and originality. Taking into account earlier writers on the subject such as Beard and Catterall, we would think enough had been written for us to have a very clear idea of the Bank's friends and enemies. On the contrary, very little has been said about the other side—about the support which the Bank had. A reading of the literature leaves the impression that its only support consisted of a few thousand stockholders, the Bank's employees, and a handful of statesmen.

For historians of the Bank, the emphasis has been upon explaining its defeat and upon identifying those people, or the convictions they held, that were responsible for its downfall. Bray Hammond, describing the forces acting against the Bank, wrote: "The Jacksonians were unconventional and skillful in politics. In their assault on the Bank they united five important elements, which, incongruities notwithstanding, comprised an effective combination. These were Wall Street's jealousy of Chestnut Street, the business man's dislike of the federal Bank's restraint upon bank credit, the politician's resentment at the Bank's interference with states' rights, popular identification of the Bank with the aristocracy of business, and the direction of agrarian antipathy away from banks in general to the federal Bank in particular. . . ."

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