The Suffolk Bank: The First U.S. Bank History

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The Suffolk Bank: The First U.S. Bank History
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Whitney, D.R. THE SUFFOLK BANK. Cambridge: Printed at the Riverside Press for Private Distribution, 1878. Tall 8vo, original maroon cloth over thick beveled boards, gilt; chocolate endpapers. v, 73, (3) pages. Ex library copy, with some markings mostly relegated to endpapers. Very good or so. A rare and important work, also the oldest bank history listed in Sullivan's recent bibliography of the subject. The Suffolk bank was instrumental in curbing many of the excesses of Wildcat banking during the State bank note era of the first half of the nineteenth century. "The 'Suffolk System,' though not recognized in our banking law, has proved to be the great safe-guard to the public. Whatever objections may exist to this 'system' in theory, its practical operation is to keep the circulation of our banks within the bounds of safety. No sound bank can have any well-founded reason for refusing to redeem its bills in Boston, and a bank that is not sound cannot long do business under that system, and ceases to be in good credit when it is 'thrown out at the Suffolk.'" --Report of Bank Commissioners of Maine, December 31, 1857. Essentially, the Suffolk Bank became a redemption center for banks throughout New England, helping to control the excess currency issues of underfunded country banks. David Rice Whitney was President of the Bank when this work was published. In the Preface, he writes: "The following sketch was written with no intention of entering into a vindication of the Suffolk Bank System. The benefits conferred upon the currency of New England by the Suffolk Bank are now universally acknowledged; the ill feelings against it, arising sometimes from personal but oftener from pecuniary considerations, have long since passed away; and the incorporation of its system of redemption into the present National Bank Act shows that its fundamental principle, that a bank currency to be sound must be redeemable on demand, still survives." Dillistin 15. Sullivan 628.