American Bankers Association.

History of the organization and annual conventions of the American banker's association online

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History of the Organization


OCTOBER 31) AND 4111. r888.




Inasmuch as the American Bankers' Association has now had an exist-
ence of nearly fourteen years, the Secretary has thought it appropriate to
embody in his report a brief history of the organization. The American
Bankers' Association had its origin in the feeling that union among the
banks of the country would result in great services to banking interests
and to the public. Previous to the inauguration of this body several
attempts had been made to bring about some concert of action among the
banks of the United States. As early as 1813, soon after the expiration of
the charter of the first bank of the United States, Secretary of the Treasury
Dallas endeavored to unite the State banks of the country in the support
of a uniform currency to be issued by tHem under the supervision of the
Central Government, but he found such a diversity of interest and such a
degree of rivalry among them that it was impracticable to accomplish his
design. This attempt is not referred to as analogous to the autonomous
efforts which finally resulted in the formation of the American Bankers'
Association, but to show that this organization is the result of difficulties
overcome, and of a long felt necessity. The adverse feeling among banks
in the early history of banking in the United States did much to aggravate
the distress of financial crisis and panics. The belief that this was so, led,
no doubt, to the first attempt on a large scale made by the bankers them-
selves to establish a basis for unity of action. In May, 1837, there was a
general suspension of specie payments and all the industries of the country-
were prostrated. When the immediate panic had abated, some of the
prominent banks in New York City, aided by a few banks in Philadelphia
and other large cities, issued notices for a Convention to be held in New
York City on April iith, 1838, and on that date one hundred and fifty-
eight bank delegates, representing banks in eighteen States, met in that
city to take some action in regard to the currency and resumption of specie
payments. The chief result of the deliberations of this assemblage was a
vote to resume in January, 1839. It has also been claimed that the con-
sultations of this Convention had some weight in determining the estab-
lishment of the Free Banking System of New York State, which was accom-
plished by an Act of the Legislature in the same month in 1838, in which
. the convention met. Another Convention of bankers was held in New
York City in 1865, soon after the establishment of the National Banking

System. It was attended by a large number of National Bank officers, but
the call for the Convention being confined to them, it did not interest the
entire banking interest. A similar Convention was held at the Astor House
in New York City in 1866, but no permanent organization appears to have
been entered into. The great financial crisis of 1873 next supervened, and
a strong and lasting impression seems to have been made on the minds of
the banking community. In 1875, a Convention was held at Saratoga,
which may properly be looked upon as the parent of this Association.


The Convention of 1875 was held in accordance with a call issued by a
committee of seventeen bankers, who met in New York City and organized
the movement. It met at Saratoga at the Town Hall, over three hundred
bankers being present, representing thirty-two States and Territories. The
Convention was called to order by Mr. J. D. Scully, of Pittsburgh, who
nominated Mr. C. E. Upton, of Rochester, as temporary Chairman. The
temporary Chairman appointed a Committee of Nine to provide for the
permanent organization of this Convention. The Committee reported the
nominations of C. B. Hall, of the Boston National Bank of Boston, Mass.,
as President, of James T. Howenstein, of the Valley National Bank of St.
Louis, Mo., as Secretary, and of A. W. Sherman, of the Dry Goods Bank of
New York City, as Treasurer. Addresses were then made by Messrs. Hall
and Upton, the subjects being Taxation of Banking Capital and Deposits
and the Usury Laws. These and other grievances, under which the bank-
ing interests of the country labored, it was believed might be removed by
securing the proper legislation, and to effect anything it was evident that
there should be some permanent organization among the bankers of the
country. Mr. Van Slyck, of the First National Bank of Madison, Wiscon-
sin, moved that a Committee of Nine be appointdd to take steps toward
forming an American Bankers' Association. He said: "My idea is that we
should have some form of organization some recognized officers to whom
we may look as authority. Whatever this Convention determines on to-
day, or refers for future action, should be taken charge of by the officers of
the permanent organization." This motion was referred to a Committee
on Resolutions, consisting of eleven gentteYnen, who reported in favor of a
permanent organization, and recommended that the Convention should
adjourn, to meet in the summer of 1876, at the call of a Committee of Nine,
to be appointed by the Chair. This report was adopted and a Committee
of Nine on permanent organization appointed, of which James Buell, Pres-
ident of the Importers' and Traders' Bank of New York City was Chair-
man. The Convention lasted three days ; the subjects attracting most
attention were the Taxation of Capital and Deposits, the Usury Laws and
the Resumption of Specie Payments. The Committee of Nine, on July
22d, constituted themselves an Executive Council and elected Mr. James
Buell President, Mr. George F. Baker Treasurer, and Mr. J. D. Hayes Sec-
retary. They assessed ten dollars for expenses on each incorporated bank
in the United States, and issued calls in August, 1876, for a Convention to
be held on October 3, 4 and 5, in Philadelphia, to complete the organiza-
tion of the American Bankers' Association.




This Convention, like that of 1888, was held in the year of a presidential
election; like that of 1888, it was held in a city where a great centennial
exposition was in progress. The delegates, numbering 182, and represent-
ing 28 States and Territories, met on October 3, at the Judges Hall, Cen-
trnnial Grounds, Philadelphia, and continued three days. The meeting
was called to order by Mr. C. B. Hall, temporary Chairman. He said the
present Convention was an adjourned one from that held at Saratoga in
the previous year. He referred to the resolutions there passed recommend-
ing a return to specie payments, and the modification of the Tax and
Usury Laws. His remarks as to the success of the endeavor to influence
Congress to act in a manner favorable to the resolutions would apply
equally well at the present day. They were that " No action had been
taken by Congress, although a committee of bankers had waited on the
Ways and Means Committee of the House, but none had been expected,
the session being one for political purposes only, and not for legislation
beneficial to the people, or for the relief of business." Notwithstanding
the difficulties encountered at first, almost everything embodied in the
resolutions referred to by Mr. Hall has since been realized. The United
States tax on capital and deposits and the two-cent stamp tax on checks
have been abolished. Specie payments have been resumed, and many of
the pettier grievances under which bankers then labored, have been re-

Mr. Buell, the President of the Executive Council, or Committee of
Nine, presented at the conclusion of Mr. Hall's speech a draft of a Consti-
tution and By- Laws. On motion of the *Hon. E. G. Spaulding, of Buffalo,
the father of the National Bank Act, the draft was referred to a committee
for revision, who reported the next day, and the Constitution and By-laws,
as reported by them, was unanimously adopted. This Constitution provided
for a President, one Vice-President from each State and Territory, and an
Executive Council of Nine, the Executive Council to have the appointment
of the Secretary and Treasurer. During the fourteen years the Associa-
tion has been in existence the Constitution has not been essentially modi-
fied. There has been created a first Vice-President, and the Executive
Council has been increased to twenty-one, and there have been a few minor
additions and modifications of the Constitution. The Convention of 1876
then elected Hon. C. B. Hall, of Boston, the first President of the American
Bankers' Association. The Executive Council held a meeting soon after,
and Mr. Geo. S. Coe, of the American Exchange National Bank of New
York City, was elected Chairman, Mr. James Buell Secretary, and Mr. Geo.

* The Commissioners of the Centennial Exposition set aside a room for the use of the Bankers
of the country, and on May 30, at the opening of the Exposition, Hon. E. G. Spaulding made an
elaborate address in the Exposition Building on ' One Hundred Years of Progress in the Business
of Banking," and closed with an historical sketch of the passage of the National Bank Act and the
early organization of banks under it. He exhibited a copy of the Act as printed in December,
1861, for the private use of the sub-Committee of Ways and Means, of which he was a member.
He twice referred to the Comptroller of the Currency, who was present, and confirmed the state-
ment of the Comptroller in his report of 1875 in reference to the authorship of the National Bank
t. which was first submitted to Congress.


F. Baker Treasurer. The principal addresses were delivered on this occa-
sion by the Hon. Hugh McCulloch, ex-Secretary of the Treasury, who spoke
on the " Financial Condition of the Country," by Mr. Geo. S. Coe on " The
Currency," and by Mr. J. D. Hayes on " Panics." These addresses called
out much interesting discussion, in which many delegates took part.


This Convention was held at Association Hall in New York City. It
commenced on Wednesday, September 12, 1877, and continued three days.
The report of the Executive Council indicates an immense amount of work
done in the direction of influencing public opinion toward reasonable
views of banking matters. Addresses were delivered by Sir Francis
Hincks, of Canada, Mr. Joseph C. Grubb, of Philadelphia, and Mr. Geo. S.
Coe. The topic of most of these addresses was the then all-absorbing one
of the " Resumption of Specie Payments." On the second day there was
an animated discussion of the " Silver Question." Other subjects treated
of were " Exorbitant Charges for the Settlement of Bankrupt Estates,"
" Bank Taxation," " Municipal Bonds," and " Savings Banks." The Hon.
C. B. Hall was re-elected President. The Executive Council was increased
to twenty-one, and the Secretary and Treasurer remained the same.


This Convention met at the Town Hall, Saratoga, on August 7, and
continued three days. The report of the Executive Council indicates the
work done in endeavoring to bring about a reduction of taxation and the
repeal of usury laws. The principal addresses and papers at this meeting
were on " Subsidiary Silver Coinage," by Mr. O. E. Hull, of Keokuk.
Iowa ; on the " National Banking System," by the Hon. Geo. Walker, of
New York ; by Mr. J. D. Hayes, of Detroit, on " Hard Times," being a com-
parison of National Bank Currency with that of the banks under State sys-
tems; by Mr. Geo. S. Coe on the "Resumption of Specie Payments;" by
Mr. Geo. S. Butler, of New Haven, Conn., on " Counterfeiting of Bank
Notes;" Mr. Coe's paper called out remarks from Mr. D. J. Fallis, of Cin-
cinnati ; Mr. Morton McMichael, of Philadelphia; Mr. A.H. Moss, of San-
dusky, O. ; Mr. J. W. Lockwood, of Richmond, Va., and Mr. Logan H.
Roots, of Little Rock, Arkansas. Mr. B. F. Nourse, of Boston, Mass., also
addressed the Convention on " The Popular Demand for the Substitution
of Greenbacks for National Bank Notes;" Mr. Sidney W. Rowell, upon the
Section of the National Banking Law restricting loans to ten per cent, of
the Capital Stock; Mr. A. H. Moss, on "Contraction, Communism and
Taxes as disturbing elements in Banking; " Mr. E. B. Judson, of Syracuse,
" Reminiscences of Old Bankers, of the Interior of New York State;" Mr.
L. Halsey Williams upon " Usury Laws ;" Mr. E. F. Torrey, of Honesdale,
Pa., on the same subject, and Mr. D. J. Fallis on Bank Taxation. Mr.
Fallis' paper gave rise to a discussion, during which Messrs. Geo. D. Rise,
of Lebanon, Pa., Mr. McDermott, of Conshohocken, Pa., Mr. Nollen. of
Pella, Iowa, made remarks. Mr. David N. Reed, of Madison, Ind., spoke
on " Prejudices against Banks;" Mr. W. E. Gould, of Portland, Me., on
the " Necessity of Change in Financial Laws ;" Mr. James S. Willock, of

Pittsburgh, Pa., on "Stolen National Hank Notes Put in Circulation ;" and
Dr. Geo. Marsland, on "Clearing Houses of Europe and the United
States." Mr. Chas. B. Hall retired from the Presidency, and Mr. Alexan-
der Mitchell, of Milwaukee, was elected to the office. Mr. Geo. S. Coe con-
tinued as President of the Executive Council, Mr. Jacob D. Vermilye, First
Vice-President, the Secretary and Treasurer remaining unchanged. Owing
to sickness in his family Mr. James Buell, Secretary of the Association.
was not present, Dr. George Marsland acting in his place.


This Convention was held at the Town Hall, Saratoga, continuing
three days. The President, Mr. Mitchell, being absent, the delegates
were called to order by Mr. Vermilye, the First Vice-President. The Sec-
retary's report gave an encouraging account of the influence exerted by the
organization in shaping legislation and congratulated the Association on
the Resumption of Specie Payments. Mr. H. H. Camp, of Milwaukee,
then read a paper on the " History of Western Banking." He was fol-
lowed by Mr. George R. Gibson, of San Francisco, on " Banking in Cali-
fornia." The Hon. John Jay Knox, Comptroller of the Currency, next
addressed the Convention upon the Financial Topics of the Day. He laid
before the delegates the condensed results of the reports of the State and
National Banks of the Country, those of the State Banks having been pre-
pared for the first time under the new Act of Congress, and treated of the
relations of Banks organized under National and States Laws, the Results of
Taxation, the Coinage Act of 1873, the Double Standard, the profits of State
and private as compared with those of National Banks, the Substitution
of Greenbacks for National Bank Notes, and the danger of a revival of State
Bank Circulation. Hon. W. J. Bacon, of Utica, New York, in commenting
on the Comptroller's Address, after moving a vote of thanks, said : "The
address which we have listened to with so much gratification is, in effect, the
condensation, ably and forcibly presented, of the reports of the Comptroller
of the Currency." Mr. Knox was followed by Mr. Geo. S. Coe, of New York,
on the " Resumption of Specie Payments and its Effects." On the third
day of the Convention, Papers were read by Mr. S. K. Sneed, of Hender-
son, Ky., on " Silver as Money ;" by Mr. James A. Briggs, of New York, on
" Losses by Bank Failures ; by Mr. W. H. Patterson, of Georgia, on " The
South and the National Banking System ;" by Mr. J. W. Proctor, of Ken-
tucky, on " Relief from Oppressive Legislation ;" by Mr. L. Halsey Wil-
liams, on the " New Law of Pennsylvania Taxing Banks;" by the Hon.
Henry L. Lamb, Acting Superintendent of the State Banking Department,
of New York, upon Savings Banks ; by Mr. Daniel Needham, of Massa-
chusetts, on the " Function of Banks ;" by Mr. T. P. Handy, of Cleveland,
O., on " Reminiscences of Banking in the West ;" by Mr. Vermilye, on the
" New York Clearing House;" by Assistant Secretary Geo. Marsland, on
"Clearing Houses;" by Mr. Joseph L. Stephens, on " Popular Delusions as
to Banks and Banking;" by Mr. Henry Kemp, of New York, on the "Sil-
ver Question ;" by Mr. George Wilson, Jr.. on " The Basis of Financial
r ailures ;" by Mr. O. S. Bond, of Toledo, O., on " Interest on Deposits;"
Dr. Andrew Simonds, of Charleston. S. C, on " Permitting National

Banks to Loan on Real Estate;" and by Assistant Secretary George Mars-
land, on " Refunding." The officers of the Association remained the same,
Mr. Alexander Mitchell having been re-elected President, Mr. Geo. S. Coe
continuing as Chairman of the Executive Council. The Comptroller of the
Currency, Mr. Knox, and the Bank Superintendent, Mr. Lamb, of Albany,
were unanimously elected ^Honorary Members of the American Bankers'


This convention met at Saratoga at the same place as the two previous
meetings, on Augnst 1 1 and continued three days. The delegates were
called to order by Mr. Vermilye who introduced the President, Mr.
Alexander Mitchell, who addressed the convention. After the reports of
the Secretary and Treasurer were received, a Paper on Western Banking,
prepared by Mr. N. B. Van Slyke, of Milwaukee, Wis., was read, which was
followed by another on " Banking in Pennsylvania," by the Hon. Hugh
Young, of Pennsylvania. Addresses were then made by Mr. Geo. R.
Gibson, of California, on " Banking in California," by Mr. W. H. George, of
Michigan, on " Grangers and Greenbackers," by Mr. E. A. Sowles, of St.
Albans, Vt., on " Suggested Changes in the National Banking Laws," by
Mr. A. H. Moss, of Sandusky, O., on " Banking in the West." On the
second day, a letter from the Hon. John Sherman, Secretary of the Treas-
ury, was read on the "Advantages of a Sound Currency," followed by a
Paper on " Japanese Banking," containing information furnished by Mr.
Takahira and Mr. Ogwea, of Japan, with comments by Secretary George
Marsland. Mr. Geo. S. Coe then addressed the convention on the " Silver
Question," and Mr. H. H. Camp, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on " Coin
Deposits as Security for National Bank Notes." Mr. A. L. Snowden,
Superintendent of the United States Mint at Philadelphia, followed with a
Paper on the " Remonetization of the Silver Dollar and the issue- of the
Trade Dollar" and General Wager Swayne with one on " Bank Taxation."
Other papers on " Bank Taxation " were presented by Mr. Julien T. Davies,
of New York, and by Mr. C. P. Williams, of Albany. On the third day an
elaborate statistical Paper, sent to the Convention by the Comptroller of
the Currency was received. Other papers were received from Mr. John
Nollen, of Pella, Iowa, on " Bank Taxation," from Mr. James A. Briggs, of
New York, on the same subject. Addresses were made by Mr. Edward
Atkinson, of Boston, on the " Industrial Growth of the Country," by Mr. W.
H. Patterson, of Georgia, on "The Industrial Progress of the Southern
States," and by Mr. Geo. A. Butler, of Connecticut, on "Specie Payment
and Resumption." There was no change in any of the officers of the


This convention was held at Niagara Kails at the Pavilion at Prospect
I 'ark on August 10, 1 88 1 . In the absence of both the President and the First
Vice-President, Hon. E.G. Spaulding was called upon to preside. A letter
was read from the Hon. William Windom, Secretary of the Treasury,

* These arc the only instances in which this honor has been

giving an interesting account of the extension of 5 and 6 per cent, bonds at
31^ per cent. The Comptroller of the Currency, the Hon. John Jay Knox,
was present at the meeting and delivered an address on " Dry Bank Sta-
tistics." The subjects treated of by the Comptroller were the distri-
bution of bank stock, deposits in National, State and private banks, distri-
bution of loans in this country and abroad, the amounts received by the
banks in gold coin, in silver coin, in paper money and in checks on June 30,
1881, showing the comparative use in business of coin and paper currency,
the preference of the people of the United States for paper money, the
use of checks in England and the United States, the transactions of
Clearing Houses, and the monetary crisis of 1873. Mr. Geo. S. Coe
read a paper on the " Currency of the Future." Other papers were read
on "The Progress of the Lake Trade," by Mr. Henry Martin, of Buffalo,
N. Y., on " Our Banking System," by Hon. Reuben E. Fenton. Papers were
also presented and ordered printed as follows on, " When Will Another
Panic Sweep Over the Country," by Mr. John Thompson of New York City,
on "National Banks," by Mr. N. B. Van Slyke of Milwaukee, Wis., on
" Money and its Legitimate Use," by Mr. Wm. E. Gould, on " English
Banking," by R. H. Inglis Palgrave of London, Eng., by the Hon. A. H.
Buckner of Missouri, Chairman of the Committee on Banking and Cur-
rency of the House of Representatives, on " Finance and Taxation," by
Mr. Lloyd Levis of California, on the " Growth of Banking in California,"
by Benjamin C. Wright, on "California Banking," by F. Marion Crawford
of New York on "Our Silver." The subject of bank taxation excited
much interest. Communications on this subject were received from the
Hon. Chas. B. Hall of Boston, Mr. Jackson G. Schultz, of New York, Mr.
R. M. Nelson of Selma, Ala., Mr. Thomas W. Thornton of Shelbyville, 111.,
Mr. E. S. Butts of Vicksburg, Miss., Mr. L. J. Bayha of Wheeling, W. Va.,
Mr. D. J. Fallis of Cincinnati, Mr. T. P. Handy of Cleveland, Ohio, Mr. J.
W. Proctor of Danville, Ky. Papers were read by Mr. Julien T. Davies of
New York, Mr. Edward A. Sowles of St. Albans, Vt. Mr. J. T. Norris
read a paper on " The Title Acquired by a National Bank to a Note Pur-
chased from a Broker," Dr. Andrew Simonds of South Carolina one on the
" Progress of the South Atlantic Cotton States," the Hon. Moritz Kopperl
one on "The Growth and Material Development of Texas," Mr. William
Powell of East Saginaw, Mich., on the " Lumber and Salt Interest in the
Saginaw Valley," Mr. George Hayne of the Merchants' Bank of Montreal,
one on " Banking in Canada," Mr. C. H. Dorley of Montreal another on
the same subject, and Mr. F. W r . Delano of Niagara Falls, one on the
" Water Power of Niagara." Communications were also received from
the Bank of California on the " Currency of the Future," and from Hon.
Geo. Walker, then in Paris, France, on the "Comparative Solidity of English
nd. American Banks.

Mr. Geo. S. Coe was elected President of the Association to succeed
r. Alexander Mitchell. Mr. Jacob I). Vermilye succeeded Mr. Coe as
Chairman of the Executive Council. Mr. Lyman J. Gage, of Chicago,
succeeded Mr. Vermilye as first Vice-President. Mr. Edmund D. Ran-
dolph, of New York, succeeded Mr. Buell as Secretary.



This Convention met at Saratoga in Putnam Hall, on August 16, and
continued two days. The meeting was called to order by Mr. Geo. S. Coe,
the President, who delivered the opening address. Papers and addresses
were read and delivered by Mr. C. C. Bonney of Chicago, on the " National
Regulation of Commercial Paper," which called out remarks from Mr.
Lyman J. Gage, of Chicago, and Mr. R. M. Nelson, of Selma, Alabama; by
Prof. Lyman H. Atwater, of New Jersey, on the " Currency of the Future ;"
by Col. W. M. Grosvenor, of New York, on "Clearings and What They
Teach ;" this also gave rise to some discussion, in which Mr. O. D. Baldwin,
of New York, and Col. Grosvenor and Mr. Gibson took part. Papers were
also presented by Mr. John Thompson, of New York on " Our Financial
Situation and the Dangers of the Future ;" by Mr. Charles Harrison, of Pitts-
burgh, Pa., on the question, " Is More Coin Needed ;" by Mr. A. D. Lynch,
of Indianapolis, Ind., on " Banking in the West ;" by Dr. Andrew Simonds,
of Charleston, S. C., on " National and State Credit in the South ;" by
Mr. Thomas Henry of Mobile, Alabama, on "Southern Industrial Pro-
gress;" by Mr. W. H. Perkins, of Jackson, Miss., on "The Productive
Growth of Mississippi and the Cotton States;" by Mr. Logan H. Roots, of
Little Rock. Ark., on "Southern Industrial Progress;" by Mr. R. M. Nel-
son, of Selma, Alabama, on the same subject; by Mr, R. H. Inglis Pal-
grave, of London, England, on 'the "English Banking System;" by Mr.


Online LibraryAmerican Bankers AssociationHistory of the organization and annual conventions of the American banker's association → online text (page 1 of 2)