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  • 1782: The First American Bank
    Congress charters the Bank of North America—the first financial institution chartered by the United States and the first real bank in the young republic. A de facto central bank whose shares were held by the public, the Bank of North America raised money to support the ongoing war against Britain. Philadelphia financier Robert Morris, who had given millions of his personal wealth to support the war, was the bank’s first superintendent.
  • 1784: Hamilton and the Bank of New York
    Future Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton founds the Bank of New York, the oldest continuously operating bank in the United States—operating today as BNY Mellon. The Bank of New York and the Bank of Massachusetts, founded the same year, are the first two state banks; the latter, through mergers, becomes part of what is today Bank of America.
  • 1785: The Almighty Dollar
    The Continental Congress adopts the dollar as the United States’ official unit of currency.
  • 1791: The First Central Bank
    On the urging of Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, Congress charters the First Bank of the United States for a 20-year term. Its purpose is to lend to the government, make loans to businesses and provide a stable money supply through its notes. The new central bank triggers the formation of 18 new commercial banks in just five years, compared with four in all of the United States prior to the First Bank’s chartering.
  • 1792: Dollars and Cents
    Congress passes a coinage act establishing the national mint in Philadelphia and identifying the coins of smaller amounts comprising a dollar.
  • 1792: Testing the System
    A financial panic puts the first test to Hamilton and the Bank of the United States. A collapse in securities prices triggers a run on the bank. Hamilton establishes a “sinking fund commission” to authorize the first open-market activities, sending nearly $250,000 to banks throughout the country to allow them to make securities purchases and boost credit.
  • 1799: Competition in New York
    Hamilton’s rival, Aaron Burr, co-founds the Bank of the Manhattan Company, operating today as J.P. Morgan Chase.

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