Economics through the Long History of America’s First Bank
Economics through the Long History of America’s First Bank
- What were the Founders’ opinions of banking in America?
- How were financial institutions created?
- What can be said about financial history and the consequences of war, epidemics, and politics?
These lessons were created with a special focus on the Bank of North America collection, consisting of more than 650 volumes of material. Many sources were selected and then digitized in order to be used in these lesson plans. They are listed below, with the understanding that teachers might find different uses than that which was originally intended.
Primary Sources relating to the Founding of the Bank of North America
- The State of the Bank in the 18th Century
- Acts of Incorporation notes, 1781
- Document written in the 1780's, detailing job descriptions in the Bank of North America.
- The Director's Book of Letters &c, 1780
- "1785 Firm Book" from the Bank of North America collection
- A selection of individual ledgers for eighteenth century American notable businesspeople
Primary Sources relating to the Bank's 1785 Charter Controversy
- Mathew Carey, editor, Debates and Proceedings of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania, on the Memorials Praying a Repeal or Suspension of the Law Annuling the Charter of the Bank
- Thomas Paine, Dissertations on Government, the Affairs of the Bank, and Paper-Money
- A letter from Thomas Paine to Bank President Thomas Willing
- James Wilson, Considerations on the Bank of North-America
- Bonus primary source! An Address to the Assembly of Pennsylvania on the Abolition of the Bank of North-America
Primary Source relating to the Yellow Fever Epidemic
- A Memorandum Book recording minutes from the Bank of North America’s Board of Directors during the Yellow Fever epidemic (Vol 3).
Primary Sources Relating to the Civil War
- Selected Civil War Era Meeting Minutes from the Board of the Bank of North America (Vol 18)
- 1860 Listing of Banks Belonging to the Bank of North America, Including a Detailed Look at the Citizens Bank of Louisiana, New Orleans (Vol 278)
- 1866 Listing of Southern Banks Belonging to the Bank of North American, Showing the Business Suspended or Destroyed Due to the War (Vol 284)
Money in the Bank's Collection
- Paper currency examples from HSP's Bank of North America Collection
- A sample nineteenth century stock certificate
- Sample 1910's dividend information for the Bank of North America
- Historical literacy prepares one for participation as active, critical citizens in a democratic society.
- Historical comprehension involves evidence-based discussion and explanation, an analysis of sources including multiple points of view, and an ability to read critically to recognize fact from conjecture and evidence from assertion.
- Historical causation involves motives, reasons and consequences that result in events and actions. Some consequences may be impacted by forces of the irrational or the accidental.
- Historical skills - organizing information chronologically, explaining historical issues, locating sources and investigate materials, synthesizing and evaluating evidence, and developing arguments and interpretations based on evidence – are used by an analytical thinker to create a historical construction.
- Textual evidence, material artifacts, the built environment, and historic sites are central to understanding United States history.
- Long-term continuities and discontinuities in the structures of United States society provide vital contributions to contemporary issues. Belief systems and religion, commerce and industry, innovations, settlement patterns, social organization, transportation and trade, and equality are examples continuity and change.
- Conflict and cooperation among social groups, organizations, and nation-states are critical to comprehending society in the United States. Domestic instability, ethnic and racial relations, labor relation, immigration, and wars and revolutions are examples of social disagreement and collaboration.
- Analyze the interaction of cultural, economic, geographic, political and social relations for a specific time and place.
- Articulate the context of a historical event or action.
- Evaluate cause-and-result relationships bearing in mind multiple causations.
- Contrast multiple perspectives of individuals and groups in interpreting other times, cultures and places.
- Analyze a primary source for accuracy and bias and connect it to a time a place in United States history.
- Apply the theme of continuity and change in United States history and relate the benefits and drawbacks of your example.
- Summarize how conflict and compromise in United States history impacts contemporary society.
- Analyze how a historically important issue in the United States was resolved and evaluate what techniques and decisions may be applied today.
Background Material for Teacher
- Ryan Baum, Bank of North America: America's First Bank (16 April 2010)
- A History of the Bank of North America by Lawrence Lewis (Philadelphia, J.B. Lippincott, 1882
- A History of Money and Banking in the United States: The Colonial Era to World War II by Murray N. Rothbard (Auburn, Alabama: Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2002)
- Legislative and Documentary History of the Bank of the United States: Including the Original Bank of North America complied by M. St. Clair Clarke and D.A. Hall (Washington: Gales and Seaton, 1832)
- The Bank of North America, Philadelphia, a national bank, founded 1781; the story of its progress through the last quarter of a century, 1881-1906 By John H. Michener Published 1906.
- The Bank of North America and Robert Morris's Management of the Nation's First Fiscal Crisis Elizabeth M. Nuxoll Business and Economic History Vol. 13, Papers presented at the thirtieth annual meeting of the Business History Conference (1984) , pp. 159-170 Published by: Oxford University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23702711
- Thomas Willing (1731-1821): Philadelphia Financier and Forgotten Founding Father Robert E. Wright Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies Vol. 63, No. 4 (Autumn 1996) , pp. 525-560 Published by: Penn State University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27773931
- Bank Ownership and Lending Patterns in New York and Pennsylvania, 1781-1831 Robert E. Wright The Business History Review Vol. 73, No. 1 (Spring, 1999) , pp. 40-60 Published by: The President and Fellows of Harvard College Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3116100
- A VOTE OF CONFIDENCE: ISAAC WHARTON AND THE BANK OF NORTH AMERICA James D. Anderson Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies Vol. 49, No. 1 (January, 1982) , pp. 48-59 Published by: Penn State University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27772792
- Artisans, Banks, Credit, and the Election of 1800 Robert E. Wright The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography Vol. 122, No. 3 (Jul., 1998) , pp. 211-239 Published by: The Historical Society of Pennsylvania Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20093220
- Legal Privilege and the Bank of North America M. L. Bradbury The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography Vol. 96, No. 2 (Apr., 1972) , pp. 139-166 Published by: The Historical Society of Pennsylvania Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20090621
Relevant Dissertations ...
- "The Bank of North America and the transformation of political ideology in early national Pennsylvania." Hans Louis Eicholz, University of California, Los Angeles, Ph.D. 1992 dissertation.
- "The Sources and Early Development of the Hostility to Banks in Early American Thought." George David Rappaport, New York University Ph.D. 1970 dissertation
End of Unit Assessment
Since this “unit” engages in multiple disciplines (especially history, government/civics, and economics), it would perhaps be most beneficial to fit a specific lesson into a teacher's pre-existing unit instead of judging a student’s overall performance based off of these 10 lessons althogether. Therefore, reflection questions and other forms of formal and/or informal assessment have been included in each specific lesson.
Plans in this Unit
Common Core Standards:
In Partnership with:
About the Author
Leo J. Vaccaro, the Wells Fargo Teacher Fellow, completed these lessons in the Summer of 2015. Vaccaro is a high school teacher, currently working at St. Joseph's Preparatory School in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter: @
Let us know how you used this plan and be featured on our site! Submit your story here.