Why Bankers Created the Fed 100 Years Ago
By: Christopher Westley
Dec 24, 2013
The Democratic Party gained prominence in the first half of the nineteenth century as being the party that opposed the Second Bank of the United States. In the process, it tapped into an anti-state sentiment that proved so strong that we wouldn’t see another like it until the next century.
Its adversaries were Whig politicians who defended the bank and its ability to grow the government and their own personal fortunes at the same time. They were, in fact, quite open about these arrangements. It was considered standard-operating procedure for Whig representatives to receive monetary compensation for their support of the Bank when leaving Congress. The Whig Daniel Webster even expected annual payments while in Congress. Once he complained to the Bank of the United States President Nicholas Biddle, “I believe my retainer has not been renewed or refreshed as usual. If it be wished that my relation to the Bank should be continued, it may be well to send me my usual retainer.”
No wonder these people were often pummeled with canes on the House floor.
It is little wonder that early Democrats garnered such popular support and would demand Andrew Jackson end America’s experiment with central banking. Jackson called it “dangerous to the liberty of the American people because it represented a fantastic centralization of economic and political power under private control.”
It’s hard to believe that guy who said that is now on the $20 bill.
Jackson also warned that the Bank of the United States was “a vast electioneering engine” that could “control the Government and change its character.” These sentiments were echoed by Roger Taney, Jackson’s Treasury Secretary, who talked of the Bank’s “corrupting influence” and ability to “influence elections.” (The Whigs would later get revenge on this future chief justice when Abraham Lincoln, in response to a written opinion with which he disagreed, issued his arrest warrant.)