In Search Of Villainous Bankers
I’ve been researching the First and Second National Banks of the United States.
I went searching for villains, but all I’ve found so far are merchants and land speculators.
And a genuine HERO — Stephen Girard.
Bankers were much more TRANSPARENT two hundred or so years ago.
That’s not true today — starting with the creation of the Fed in 1913, and especially following the Carter years.
Nomi Prins (All the Presidents’ Bankers: The Hidden Alliances that Drive American Power, 2014) wrote …
“As for the archival records, all of the National Archives and Records Administration libraries for FDR through Carter have exceedingly accessible and well-organized information with consistent classifications. They were a pleasure to peruse, and I lost myself for days in all of them. After Reagan took office, records became less available. At the Clinton Library in Little Rock, Arkansas, I learned that some records may never be uncovered without the benefit of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, not merely for ‘national security reasons’ (as years go by, the number of redactions in documents rise anyway) but because the commitment to organize such a vast amount of material is not what it was before the 1980s. As such, the bulk of information that might be revealed by the FOIA requests that I filed at the Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Clinton libraries is not available yet.
“What remains to be examined by some curious person years from now is the nature of George W. Bush’s and Barack Obama’s relationships with the leading bankers of their day. We may never know the specifics of the discussions that were conducted; bankers don’t put much in writing anymore, and there have been no tapes of White House conversations since Nixon. But we can be sure of one thing: those bankers and their firms are the financial descendants of the men at that Morgan meeting in 1929, and decades from now they still will be. On this, history is clear.”
Bankers were nobler two hundred or so years ago — nobler than the majority of the politicians, lawyers, and doctors who signed the Declaration of Independence.
Laurie Halse Anderson (Fever 1793, 2000) wrote …
“Girard was a rich Frenchman with a finger in every pie; he was a merchant, an importer, and a banker. But what did Mr. Girard have to do with Bush Hill?
“‘He came through here like a hurricane, he did,’ Mrs. Flagg explained. ‘He fired the slovenly devils who caused all the trouble. Then he ordered repairs on the water pumps, hired good folks like me, and laid in supplies. We even have a fancy French officer, Dr. [Jean] Devéze, who supervises the patients, and Mrs. Saville for our matron.'”
“‘With a name like Bridget you are surely not French, are you, Mrs. Flagg?’ asked Grandfather.
“‘Good gracious, no, what a question,’ laughed Mrs. Flagg. ‘I can barely make out what they’re saying half the time, but they work hard, and the pay is good. And I’ll tell you this,’ she said, leaning closer and lowering her voice.
“‘You’ll hear folks say that Dr. [Benjamin] Rush is a hero for saving folks with his purges and blood letting. But I’ve seen different. It’s these French doctors here that know how to cure the fever. I don’t care if Dr. Rush did sign the Declaration of Independence. I wouldn’t let him and his knives near me.'”
Howard Anton (“Stephen Girard and the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793,” Stephen Girard: Forgotten Patriot) wrote …
“Girard and Devéze both oppose the bleeding methods of Dr. Rush, and Girard expresses the opinion that people were dying ‘because of the pernicious treatment by our doctors.'”
Robert H. Bremner (American Philanthropy, Second Edition, 1966, 1980) wrote …
“Neither before nor after the epidemic were Rush and Girard on friendly terms. To Rush, Girard’s character seemed as singular as his prosperity was extraordinary. He believed and repeated rumors of Girard’s niggardliness toward impecunious relatives and of his despotic treatment of employees. ‘Men will be Gods!’ he exclaimed in his commonplace book after recording instances of Girard’s arrogance. For his part, Girard never tired of denouncing American doctors as charlatans, ‘ignorant jackasses,’ and ‘executioners of the human race.'”