Andrew Jackson Battling the Central Bank When Presidents Had Some Shred of Integrity

Posted: 16 May 2009 by Editors in Political Science
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Great article by Simon Schama in the Financial Times weekend section on American presidents battling with banksters. Read the full article. You can ignore the last paragraph. Anyone semi-literate knows that making money “moral again” won’t happen with this president.

by Simon Schama

5 May 09 | FT

Unaccustomed as they are to being told to stand in the corner wearing dunces’ hats, American bankers, so it’s been reported, are getting grouchy about the “stress tests” inflicted on them by the Treasury as a condition of receiving bail-out funds. They have, it’s rumoured, been ‘pushing back’ against restrictions on executive pay. Beggars, it seems, can be choosers. But before they get just a bit above themselves, perhaps they should ponder the long history of the love-hate relationship between banking and government in America.

They could do worse than to take a look at the $20 bill. For there, breaking into the space separating the words ‘Federal’ from ‘Reserve’ is the cresting mane of Andrew Jackson, the most hair-conscious president of the United States. Aside from cultivating his pompadour as the insignia of a free frontier spirit, his locks tied in an eelskin, the seventh U.S. president was also the sworn enemy of paper currency and central banking.

Jackson, who was in the White House from 1829-1837, was a new brand of politician in American life. No one would confuse him with the Virginian gentlemen-planters who had dominated high office in the early republic. He had been Indian fighter, scourge of the British and darling of the frontier crowds. But what really got his dander up was the Bank of the United States, the institution granted the monopoly to print paper money. The “Monster”, he declared at the height of his presidential knock-down battle with its president Nicholas Biddle, “wants to kill me but I will kill it”.

And destroy the Bank of the United States Jackson did, vetoing the Senate’s renewal of its charter in 1832 and running for re-election as the champion of People v Monster. [read the full article]

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