Bank of North America
The Bank of North America was a private national bank which served as the United States' first de facto central bank. Chartered by the Continental Congress on May 26, 1781, and opened in Philadelphia on January 7, 1782, it was based upon a plan presented by US Superintendent of Finance Robert Morris on May 17, 1781, based on recommendations by Revolutionary era figure Alexander Hamilton. Failing to gain and maintain sufficient long term traction in that role, it was succeeded by the also privately held First Bank of the United States in 1791.
The bank's original building at 307 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia
|Successor||First Bank of the United States|
|Founded||December 31, 1781Philadelphia, Pennsylvaniain|
|Founders||Robert Morris, Alexander Hamilton, William Bingham, et al|
|Tench Francis, Jr., First cashier; later known as the CEO|
In May 1781 Alexander Hamilton revealed that he had recommended Robert Morris for the position of Superintendent of Finance of the United States the previous summer when the constitution of the Articles of Confederation-era executive was being solidified. Second, he proceeded to lay out a proposal for a national bank that would also serve as a de facto central bank. Morris, who had corresponded with Hamilton previously on the subject of funding the war, immediately drafted a legislative proposal based on Hamilton's suggestion and submitted it to the Congress. Morris persuaded Congress to charter the Bank of North America, the first private commercial bank in the United States.
The original charter as outlined by Hamilton called for the disbursement of 1,000 shares priced at $400 each. Benjamin Franklin purchased a single token share as a sign of good faith to Federalists and their new bank. Hamilton used his pseudonym "Publius" (later immortalized in the Federalist Papers advocating in the late 1780s for adoption of the United States Constitution) to endorse the bank.
The greatest share, however, 63.3%, was purchased on behalf of the United States government by Robert Morris using a gift in the form of a loan from France, and a loan from the Netherlands. This had the effect of capitalizing the bank with large deposits of gold and silver coin and bills of exchange. He then issued new paper currency backed by this supply.
Thomas Willing, a twice former mayor of Philadelphia and partner with Morris in an import-export firm (that included slaving), was named the bank's first president. He held that office from 1781–1791, being succeeded by John Nixon, and moving immediately on to become the first president of the First Bank of the United States, a position he held from 1791 to 1807.
By 1783, Congress and several states including Massachusetts enacted legislation, allowing Americans to pay taxes with Bank of North America certificates, giving them a crucial aspect of legal tender.
New York Stock ExchangeEdit
The Bank of North America along with the First Bank of the United States and the Bank of New York were the first shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange. The Bank of North America opened a Canadian affiliate in Montreal, Lower Canada on March 8, 1837.
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- Legislative and Documentary History of the Bank of the United States: Including the Original Bank of North America, by Matthew St. Clair Clarke and David A. Hall. This collection of documents was aimed to include the entire proceedings, debates, and resolutions of Congress relating to the Bank of North America, the First (1791–1811) Bank of the United States, and the Second (1816–1836) Bank of the United States. These documents were compiled four years before the closing of the Second Bank.
- Legislative and Documentary History of the Banks of the United States, from the Time of Establishing the Bank of North America, 1781, to October 1834; with Notes and Comments, by R. K. Moulton. An attempt to compile all the public documents considered to be essential in attaining a thorough knowledge of the national banking operations of the United States, from 1781 to 1834.