Bank of New York Founded-1784

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The Bank of North America had its original charter from the Congress of Confederated colonies, and contained a provision preventing it from establishing branches within the several colonies without their consent. The act of the New York Legislature of 1782 was simply confirmatory of the charter granted by the Congress. 

In 1784 the Bank of New York was founded under articles drawn by Alexander Hamilton, but was unable to secure a charter for seven years. This third oldest organized bank in the United States was authorized to have a capital of $1,000,000 and could contract debts, including those on account of circulating notes, to three times the amount of the capital.

The first home of the Bank of New York was in the old mansion of William Walton, at 67 St. Georges (now Franklin) Square. This was a three story house built of old yellow Dutch brick with hewn stone lintels, having been erected in 1752, and remained standing until 1881. 

The first officers were: General Alexander MacDougal, president; William Seton, cashier; Samuel Franklin, Robert Bowne, Comfort Sands, Alexander Hamilton, Joshua Waddington, Thomas Randall, William Maxwell, Nicholas Lowe, Daniel McCormick, Isaac Roosevelt, John Vanderbilt and Thomas B. Stoughton, directors.

In 1791 the Legislature was induced to relent, and give the Bank of New York a charter, and it began its corporate existence on May 2 of that year. This charter was extended several times until 1852, when it was reorganized under the Free Banking Law with a capital of $2,000,000. On January 5, 1865, it became a national bank with a capital of $3,000,000. The charter under which this bank was incorporated was a sample of those granted during the next few decades, which were notable for what they forbade than for what they permitted.

These early charters stipulated that the banks must not trade in stocks of merchandise, nor hold any more real estate than was needed in the conduct of their business, except such property as was received in satisfaction of claims against a debtor.

The amount of indebtedness a bank might incur might not exceed three times its paid up capital, and the notes issued must not be of small denominations, nor exceed certain limits. In theory and practice a bank could do anything that was not forbidden.

Until 1825, or during a period of thirty-four years, the charters granted in New York State made no specific enumeration of the powers banks might exercise. There were no checks on fraud; no examinations of books or transactions: no method of preventing trickery. The Legislature during the first decade after 1791 granted few charters. 

The need for banks was not great, there was a prejudice against such institutions as monopolies, and the few established banks desired no rivals. For the first fifteen years the Bank of New York had no competitor in the city except the New York branch of the Bank of the United States. More outstanding is the fact that the bank had become an important factor in politics, and the getting of a charter from the Legislature was something only attained by one having political skill or favor.

Website: The History
Article Name: Bank of New York Founded-1784
Researcher/Preparer/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: New York State, A History; Lewis Historical  Publishing Company, Inc. New York 1927
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