The Second Bank of the United States
Digital History ID 214
John F. Lovett
Originally, the Republican party stood for limited government, states' rights, and a strict interpretation of the Constitution. By 1815, however, the party had adopted former Federalist positions on a national bank, protective tariffs, a standing army, and national roads.
The severe financial problems created by the War of 1812 led to a wave of support for the creation of a second national bank. The demise of the first Bank of the United States just before the war had left the nation ill equipped to deal with the war's financial demands. To finance the war effort, the governed borrowed from private banks at high interest rates. To make matters worse, the U.S. government was unable to redeem millions of dollars deposited in private banks. Soldiers, army contractors, and government security holders went unpaid and the Treasury temporarily went bankrupt.
Supporters of a second national bank argued that it would provide a safe place to deposit government funds and a convenient mechanism for transferring money between states. Supporters also claimed that a national bank would promote monetary stability by regulating private banks. Opposition to a national bank came largely from private banking interests and traditional Jeffersonians, who considered a national bank to be unconstitutional and a threat to republican government.
In this selection, John F. Lovett (1761-1818), a Federalist Representative from New York, describes the bank as a concentration of unaccountable power inappropriate in a republican society.
Exhausted in a seven hours sitting, I can but [write] a word.
We are over the Rubicon--The Bank bill has passed...
This is an evil hour, from stocks constructed I known not how, and stacked I know not in what manner, have we constructed the Trojan Horse, and given commission to unite against the Republic. I make good prize of every thing for 20 years; after that period, the Commander & Crew will get their commission received to do just what they please, and no questions asked....
Source: Gilder Lehrman Institute
Additional information: John F. Lovett to Stephen Van Rensselaer
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