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Andrew Jackson & The 20 Dollar Bill

3958 words - 16 pages

The American Lion ! Strong-willed and sharp-tempered, a fierce patriot and rabid partisan, Andrew Jackson was always controversial both as a general and as President. He personalized disputes and demonized opponents. He was the defender of the Union, the conqueror of nullification, the hero of democracy. Andrew Jackson was President of the United States during a crucial period of decision making that not only affected Americans, but particularly the economy involving the Second Bank of the United States. Jackson opposed all banks, believing that they only made the rich more wealthy and corrupted government. Although Jackson’s main concern was to give lower social classes the same ...view middle of the document...

The colonies had no factories to produce goods for export, no means of manufacturing arms or ammunition, and no credit abroad. On May 10, 1775, before the Declaration of Independence, the Continental Congress authorized an issuance of currency and made it legal tender (Moore 175). All of the North American colonies followed by making this “Continental” currency their legal tender. Congress appealed to the colonies to make the bills legal tender and to call in their own bills; neither of which stopped counterfeiting or assured acceptance of the bills. Consequently, in May of 1781, Congress caused the Continental bills to be refunded. At this time the country had three types of currency: notes issued by the Congress called “old tenor”, notes issued by the states, and notes issued by the states and Congress called “new tenor” notes. The threat of fines, imprisonment, loss of ears, and being outlawed did not make citizens accept the new types of money being presented to them that had no gold or silver backing. The attempt by a government to impart intrinsic value to a product that had none in the commercial world failed as it always had and always will. The Bank of North America was established in 1781 by Congress (Moore 178). The Bank of North America was the first bank to be incorporated into the country and obtained a capital of $400,000. It’s charter was perpetual and a number of states granted it a charter in correspondence. Shortly after the Bank of North America was founded, in 1784 the Bank of New York, New York City, and Massachusetts Bank, Boston were organized (Moore 179). These banks issued currency that was backed by the resources of the banks and it was readily accepted and circulated. Alexander Hamilton was a controlling influence in the Bank of New York and drew its charter. The Banks of New York, New York City, and Massachusetts, Boston were a few of the most important because they gave the new nation its first stable currency and was an enormous aid to giving business the ability to operate efficiently and with confidence. The newly framed United States Constitution took note of the difficulties of issuing currency and included in Article 1 the following: “The Congress shall have power...to borrow money on the credit of the United States...to coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin,” also, “No state shall...coin money, emit bills of credit, make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts, pass any...law impairing the obligation of contracts” (Moore 185). This wording suggests at least that the framers of the Constitution intended that Congress not have the power to issue paper currency with legal tender attributes. After Article 1 was adopted into the United States Constitution, the issuing of paper currency by banks became an accepted means of providing a medium of exchange measure and a store of value. Establishment of the Bank of the United States on February 25, 1791, despite objections...

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