Business: Tale of Two Banks

In 1811 Congress failed to renew the charter of Manhattan's original (and real) Bank of the United States. Encouraged by the withdrawal of Government competition, powerful men in Manhattan contemplated founding new banks. In 1812 two were launched. One was Bank of America, whose first president was Oliver Wolcott, onetime (1795-1800) Secretary of the Treasury. Its capital was $6,000,000, its office on the corner of Wall & William Streets. The other was National City Bank, started with $800,000 in capital.

Ten years after it was founded, Bank...

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