NICHOLAS BIDDLE (January 8, 1786 – February 27, 1844) was an American
financier who served as the president of the Second Bank of the United States.
After Biddle moved to the state Senate, he lobbied for re-chartering the Second
Bank. The Bank was re-chartered in 1816, and President Monroe appointed Biddle
as a government director. When Bank
president Langdon Cheves resigned in 1822, Biddle became president. During the
Panic of 1819, a banking crisis and economic recession, critics charged that
the Bank was to blame because of its tight credit policy. The Bank had no
choice. In late 1818, $4 million in payments were due to European investors on
the bonds sold in 1803 to pay for the Louisiana Purchase. The Bank, as the
government’s fiscal agent, was required to make this payment. The Bank was
forced to demand that commercial banks, which had been lent money in the form
of paper, repay in gold or silver. This contraction of the monetary base, after
three years of inflated currency and rampant speculation based on debt, led to
the panic of 1819. In Tennessee, Andrew
Jackson was hard pressed to pay debts. He developed a lifelong hostility to all
banks that were not backed by gold or silver. In 1839, Biddle resigned as Bank
President and, in 1841, the Bank finally failed.
Offering sentiments on a 1 ¾ x 5 ¾ letter fragment, “With great respect, N. Biddle.”
Light mounting residue to verso. Else excellent.
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