Historical Statistics of the United States, 1789-1945

By United States. Bureau Of The Census | Go to book overview

Chapter N. Banking and Finance (Series N 1-232)

Banking Statistics: Series N 1-147

N 1-147. General note. "There are four principal events which may conveniently be taken as dividing American banking history into periods. The first was establishment in 1782 of the Bank of North America, the first bank in the United States. This occurred at the end of the Revolutionary War and a few years before the formation of a Federal Government under the Constitution.

"The second event was adoption in New York State of the Free Banking Act of 1838, a statute which profoundly influenced subsequent American banking practice, banking supervision, and the banking structure as a whole. Close to this event in time were the discontinuance in 1836 of the Bank of the United States as a Federal institution, the panic of 1837, the original establishment of the Independent Treasury System in 1840, and enactment of the Louisiana Banking Law of 1842.

"The third event was establishment of the national banking system in 1863. This coincided roughly with discontinuance of note issue by State banks, the shift from bank notes to bank deposits, the War between the States, and the beginning of a new phase of industrial and westward territorial expansion.

"The fourth event was establishment of the Federal Reserve System in 1913. The System's operations began in 1914, the year war broke out in Europe. The period from then to the present, 1940, has been crowded with developments whose course has not yet been concluded and whose significance cannot yet be appraised"—from "Historical Introduction" by Bray Hammond in Banking Studies, authored by Members of the Staff, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 1941.

Collection of banking and monetary statistics in the United States has been conditioned by the development of our banking and monetary system. Banks in this country have been in part under the jurisdiction of State governments, in part under the Federal Government and in part outside the jurisdiction of both governments. As a result, the collection of statistics for all classes of banks has never been completely centralized in one agency. National banks organized under the Federal law enacted in 1863 are supervised by the Comptroller of the Currency, and State-chartered banks are supervised by officials of the respective States. Another supervisory entity, the Federal Reserve System, was established in 1914 to exercise central banking functions, some of which are shared with the United States Treasury. The Reserve System includes all national banks and, in addition, such State banks as voluntarily join the System.

Prior to the National Banking Act of 1863, the only official collection of figures for the entire country was made by the Treasury Department under authority of a resolution of the House of Representatives passed in 1832. From 1832 to 1863, with the exception of some years, the Secretary of the Treasury included in his reports to Congress information regarding the number of State banks. From 1863 to 1873 statistics of national banks only were published—in the Annual Report of the Comptroller of Currency. Since 1864, the Comptroller of Currency, who has charge of the supervision of national banks, has collected condition reports from three to six times annually and has tabulated and published summaries of these reports, showing the principal assets and liabilities, that is, total loans, United States Government securities, other securities, reserves, bankers' balances, interbank deposits, other demand deposits, and time deposits. National bank data are published in detail in Abstract of Reports of Condition National Banks (usually 3 times a year). Until recently, the Annual Report of the Comptroller of Currency contained many historical tables. For historical data see also Publications of the National Monetary Commission, vol. 7; for a statement concerning the inadequacy of the historical data for "all banks" see appendix A, pp. 243-60, of that volume.

After the Federal Reserve System was established in 1914, State bank members of the Federal Reserve System began to submit to the Federal Reserve banks their statements of condition at the same time and in substantially the same form as national banks. The data from these statements have been consolidated by the Federal Reserve Board with data for national banks collected by the Comptroller of the Currency into totals for all member banks of the Federal Reserve System, and are published in detail by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in the Member Bank Call Report (usually three times a year) and in summary form in the monthly Federal Reserve Bulletin.

The data shown here were compiled principally from the two basic sources in this field: Annual Report of the Comptroller of the Currency, and Banking and Monetary Statistics, a one-volume statistical summary published in 1943, by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Data shown prior to 1914 are almost wholly dependent on the reports of the Comptroller of Currency, since the Banking and Monetary Statistics generally covers only the period beginning with 1914. Subsidiary documents also used have already been referred to above, namely, the Member Bank Call Report and the Federal Reserve Bulletin. For more detailed information concerning the data shown here, the user will be well advised to consult the aforementioned publications.

Bank defined. "For general statistical purposes it may be said that a bank is a financial institution which accepts money from the general public for deposit in a common fund, subject to withdrawal or to transfer by check on demand or on short notice, and makes loans to the general public. This definition comprehends national banks (which are chartered by the Federal Government), banks organized under State laws (including commercial banks, trust companies, mutual and stock savings banks, industrial banks, and cash depositories), and unincorporated banks (private banks and bankers). It excludes building and savings and loan associations, personal loan and other small-loan companies, credit unions, mortgage companies, sales finance companies, insurance companies, and credit agencies owned in whole or in part by the Federal Government"— Banking and Monetary Statistics, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 1943, p. 6.


PRINCIPAL ASSETS AND LIABILITIES OF BANKS (N 1-59)

Assets and liabilities are defined here in their usual accounting meaning. Assets are the resources of banks such as loans, investments, reserves, cash and balances with other banks; liabilities are the charges against these resources. Principal liabilities are demand and time deposits and capital accounts. Capital accounts include (1) the funds originally paid in by the banks' owners, for which they ordinarily receive stock certificates, (2) surplus, which generally consists of that part of earnings specifically set aside as a permanent part of the capital structure, and (3) undivided profits, which consist of profits not yet declared as dividends or alternatively not yet put into surplus.

N 1-12. Second Bank of the United States, 1817-1840. Source: Annual Report of Comptroller of Currency, 1876, p. lxxxiii. Series N 5 (due from State and foreign banks) is a combination of two series shown separately in the original source: "Due by European bankers" and "due from State banks"; the same type of combina-

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