Review of Keynesian Economics

The nation-building purposes of early US central banks

Jane Knodell *

Keywords: central banking, early US history, public finance

Abstract

The First and Second Banks of the US (1791–1811 and 1816–1836 respectively) provide historical examples of quasi central banking institutions that fulfilled purposes beyond and other than monetary stabilization. Both Banks were chartered and organized for the purpose of addressing postwar public finance problems facing a young national government seeking to establish its independence from external powers and its internal integrity as a national entity. Both Banks performed monetary stabilization services as well, as a by-product of their public finance and nation-building roles.

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