BANKING: Capital Mystery

For a week, the rumor had flitted along Washington's Pennsylvania Avenue: John L. Lewis was buying the staid, red-chimneyed National Bank of Washington.

The National is not the biggest bank in the capital (resources: $29 million), but it is the oldest (est. 1809). Henry Clay and Daniel Webster were once depositors. In the War of 1812, the cashier cagily sneaked the bank's funds out of town the day the British captured the city. Later the bank lent the empty U.S. Treasury $50,000 to help rebuild the White House, which had been burned by the redcoats.

National's stock, originally issued at $40...

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