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The period covered in this Early History of Banking in Iowa extends from 1836 to 1846, with short sketches of the political and economic conditions from 1846 to the Constitutional Convention of 1857. It includes the history of the Miners' Bank of Dubuque, the only chartered bank, and the discussions of banks in the Constitutional Conventions of 1844 and 1846.

The inter-relation of the economic and political characteristics of the period is fully treated, and so much of the social history is given as is necessary to make clear the economic and political. The historical setting of the more important opics has been given when it has been thought necessary to nake clear the economic and political conditions.

The chronological order has been followed in the main, as the subject is not evolutional, but follows quite closely the passing financial and related political events of the other states of the Union. The only variation from a strictly chronological treatment is made where it has been thought necessary to give a summation of historical events to make clear the discussion of the topic following.

The material for this monograph is very intractable, in many cases, for it bristles with details which defy all attempts at condensation without consequent loss of clearness. Condensation has been made wherever it has been practicable.

The material from which the history of this period has been drawn is widely scattered. The principal part of it has been found in the library of the State Historical Society at lowa City, including the Journals of the House of Representatives and Council of Iowa Territory, and the files of the Iowa Capital Reporter from 1841 to 1846, and the Iowa Standard from 1840 to 1845 and the Bloomington Herald from 1841 to 1846.


The file of the Dubuque Visitor and Iowa News was found at the Library of the State Historical Department lately merged into the Iowa State Library. Use has been made of material found in the library of the University of Chicago, The Newberry Library, the Chicago Public Library, and the Library of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, obtained while pursuing investigations upon allied subjects. One can but regret the almost total disappearance of the earlier documents from the State archives, only two documents used in this monograph are found there.

Acknowledgments of thanks are due to Professor Isaac A. Loos, under whose direction the work was undertaken, for courtesies extended during research work and for assistance given in reading the advance sheets; but for any errors found in the text he should not be held responsible. Assistance has been given by Professor Benjamin F. Shambaugh and use has been made of his "Fragments of the Debates of the Iowa Constitutional Conventions of 1844 and 1846" to check the references cited for the Constitutional Conventions of 1844 and 1846.

Courtesies during investigation were extended by Miss Adelaide Lloyd, formerly Custodian of the Iowa State Historical Society; Charles Aldrich, Curator and Secretary of the State Historical Department of Iowa; Johnson Brigham, State Librarian, and his assistant, A. J. Small; Reuben G. Thwaites, Secretary and Superintendent of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.



1. Introduction.

There were in the United States in 1790 four banks of issue with a capitalization of two and one-half million dollars, and an issue of paper money equal to the amount of that capital. At the close of the year 1810, eighty-eight banks were in operation, and in the next six years 138 more banks were organized. The total capital of all banks at this time was $89,822,422, with a circulation of $68,000,000, and a specie reserve of $19,000,000.

The period from 1816-20 was a period of general suspension of specie payments, accompanied by the evil results of a depreciated currency. By 18202 the circulation had decreased to $48,000,000 and loans and discounts in an even larger proportional amount Debts were contracted in this depreciated paper money that after 1820 had to be paid at par.

By 1830,3 there were in operation 329 banks; in 1834, 506; in 1835, 706; in 1836, 713. Many of these banks were organized with but a nominal capital, and of the paid-up capital much of it was in the form of stock notes of the directors. The issues of notes were very often from two to three times the nominal capital of the banks. The banks were in many instances located, if in existence at all, in places inaccessible to the general public.

1 Blodgett's Economica. These were: Bank of North America, Bank of Maryland, Bank of Massachusetts, Bank of New York. The last was operating without a charter. A charter was secured in 1791.

2 Sec. Crawford's Report to Congress, Comptroller's Report, 1876, p. 159.

3 Ibid.

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