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In 1781, Hamilton again broached the idea of a national bank, outlininghis vision in a letter to Robert Morris, superintendent of finance forCongress. The bank would issue pound notes backed in part by realestate, redeem the government’s outstanding paper money obligations andlend to both government and private businesses. Such an institutionwould furnish the needed capital to win the war and “be a source ofnational strength and wealth,” Hamilton wrote. Morris may haveincorporated some of Hamilton’s ideas into his plan for the Bank ofNorth America, the first independent bank in the country. (Domesticbanks were banned under Colonial rule.) Incorporated in 1781, thePhiladelphia bank was conceived as a national bank but devolved into aregional bank focused on private lending.

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As in his earlier proposals, Hamilton stressed the importance of aquasi-public structure for the bank. It would serve the nationalinterest, but under the control of private individuals, not governmentofficials. In studying other great banks of issue, such as the Bank ofEngland and Bank of Amsterdam, he had concluded that a national bankmust be shielded from political interference: “To attach full confidenceto an institution of this nature, it appears to be an essentialingredient in its structure that it shall be under a private not apublic direction, under the guidance of individual interest, not ofpublic policy.”

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To avoid the inflation caused by the wartime continentals, Hamiltonproposed that the bank issue notes redeemable on demand for specie. Thebank and all other banks in the country would operate under amixed-money system, cutting-edge monetary practice in the age of thegold standard. Paper currency issued by the national bank andstate-chartered banks would be a close substitute for gold and silvercoin in financial transactions; thus the nation’s currency would bestable, anchored to a bimetallic monetary standard, and portable,expediting the transport of funds and speeding circulation.

In 1958, the Bank of America (BankAmerica) created the BankAmericard credit card, which was rebranded in 1975 as the VISA card.

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The Second Bank’s life was also cut short; irked by its burgeoningmonetary and political power, President Andrew Jackson refused to renewits charter, and the bank ceased operations in 1836. But even in theabsence of a central bank, the ideas that Hamilton expounded and putinto practice endured. In the 19th century, bank lending supported inpart by state and federal credit spurred business growth, planting theseeds for the nation’s flowering into an economic power after the Civil War.

The Founding Fathers, Colonial Script, the Federal …

Hamilton also proposed a government-supported national bank to control government finances.

Jefferson and his followers, who included many Southerners, finally agreed to support some of Hamilton's financial proposals.

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Up to the time of the bank's charter, coins and bills issued by state banks served as the currency of the young country. The First Bank's charter was drafted in 1791 by the Congress and signed by George Washington. In 1811, Congress voted to abandon the bank and its charter. The bank was originally housed in from 1791 to 1795. The neo-classical design of the bank was intended to recall the democracy and splendor of ancient Greece. When you're there, note the eagle which crowns the two-story portico. At the time of the bank's creation the eagle had been our national symbol for only 14 years. The bank building was restored for the Bicentennial in 1976.

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The constitutionality of a national bank with broad monetary powerswould not be affirmed until 1819, in the landmark U.S. Supreme Courtcase McCulloch v. Maryland. Echoing Hamilton’s assertion of impliedpowers in 1791, the Court ruled that Congress indeed had the power toincorporate such a bank under the necessary-and-proper clause.

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Hamilton is also part of the debate in the 2007-2008 Minneapolis Fed student essay contest: “” for which high school students will discuss the founding fathers’ competing concepts for the new nation’s economic future.