The Bank of New York was the first bank in New York City, founded by Alexander Hamilton and opened on June 9, 1784. Hamilton was the chief architect of the new bank. Hamilton wrote the constitution of the bank and was one of the original 13 directors. He also made the decision that the bank should be based on specie (gold and silver) rather than land. Hamilton’s constitution was used as the “model upon which all the bank charters granted in New York were framed prior to 1825.” Hamilton’s voting structure restricted the power of larger shareholders, rather than a one share-one vote scheme.
In Alexander Hamilton and the Growth of the New Nation, John Chester Miller described Hamilton’s attachment to the Bank he founded:
Hamilton’s concern for the welfare of the Bank of New York cannot be left out of account. He might have said of the institution that although it was a small bank, there were those who loved it.
By the time Hamilton became Treasury Secretary, he instructed the bank cashier to sell his stocks, despite losing significant profits as the Bank’s stock rose dramatically. Hamilton felt that the political consequences of having a stake in a bank would compromise his position and eschewed the profitable stocks in favor of maintaining his political reputation.
Currently, the Bank of New York building is home to the Museum of American Finance. Summer is a great time for museum hopping in NYC and the museum is offering a Groupon deal for 50% off admission! The museum is located at 48 Wall Street and is open to the public on Tuesday – Saturday, from 10 am – 4 pm.. If you go, make sure to check out the Hamilton Room, focusing specifically on Hamilton’s legacy.
Also note, MOAF is hosting a Hamilton vs. Jefferson Debate next Thursday, July 11th from 5:30-7 pm, as part of the Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society’s Celebrate Hamilton 2013 events. The description of the event from the event flyer is below:
National Hamilton Scholar Dr. William G. Chrystal will become Alexander Hamilton for the evening to both entertain and educate attendees in a “debate” with Thomas Jefferson. After the presentation, a Q&A session will be held, followed by a reception.