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Jackson and Biddle

October 3, 2018

Andrew Jackson wasn’t always so vehemently opposed to the Bank of the United States (B.U.S.).  When he was military governor of Florida, he forwarded a petition from the locals asking for a branch bank to be established at Pensacola.  Six years later, the current bank president sent an envoy to ask Jackson’s advice regarding the appointment of directors for the Nashville, Tennessee branch.  Jackson politely declined, replying: “Never having been connected with Banks, and having very little to do with this one here, I feel unable to give you any satisfaction.”

If the bank president did not think Jackson was a prospective friend of the B.U.S., he probably would not have included him in the discussion.  Even though Jackson’s explicit advice was not available, his presumed opinion was certainly taken into consideration.  Of course, there was a good chance Jackson was going to be elected President of the United States the next year.  If Jackson served two terms, the charter for the B.U.S. would expire before he was out of office. It would be good for the B.U.S. if the President favored the institution.

Nicholas Biddle had been president of the B.U.S. since 1823.  At the age of fifteen he was valedictorian of the Class of 1801 at the College of New Jersey at Princeton.  In addition to his knowledge of public finance, Biddle was an author, poet, and linguist.  He was just the sort of man of whom Jackson would naturally be suspicious and for whom he could develop an intense hatred.  Fortunately for Biddle, that distinction was reserved for another.


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