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Independent Treasury - History

Independent Treasury - History

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1846- Independent Treasury Act

Federal Reserve

This Act required that all federal funds be deposited in treasuries independent of private banks. It also mandated that all debts due to the federal government be paid in gold, silver, or treasury notes.

Part of President Polk's election platform had been the establishment of an Independent Treasury to hold Federal Funds. Creating an Independent Treasury had been a major goal of the Democrats. Establishing the Independent Treasury was seen as the final act in eliminating vestiges of what had been bad about the Second Bank of the United States. The Independent Treasury Act ensured that federal funds would not be placed in private banks. All Federal funds had to be placed in the new entity created by the Act. The Independent Treasury Act also required that all federal disbursements be made in gold or silver, or with paper money that was backed by gold or silver. The purpose of the disbursement clause in the act was to try to cool down the speculation regarding land that was supposedly caused by access to easy money

Independent Treasury System

After President Andrew Jackson Jackson, Andrew,
1767�, 7th President of the United States (1829󈞑), b. Waxhaw settlement on the border of South Carolina and North Carolina (both states claim him). Early Career

A child of the backwoods, he was left an orphan at 14.
. Click the link for more information. vetoed the bill to recharter the Bank of the United States Bank of the United States,
name for two national banks established by the U.S. Congress to serve as government fiscal agents and as depositories for federal funds the first bank was in existence from 1791 to 1811 and the second from 1816 to 1836.
. Click the link for more information. , he transferred (1833) government funds from the bank to state banks (the "pet banks"). Those banks, however, used the funds as a basis for speculation, which was already rampant and was soon to be further increased by the distribution of the federal surplus among the states. The situation was brought to a head by Jackson's issue of the Specie Circular (1836), which led to a drain on the "pet banks" and their collapse in the Panic of 1837. President Martin Van Buren Van Buren, Martin,
1782�, 8th President of the United States (1837󈞕), b. Kinderhook, Columbia co., N.Y. Early Career

He was reared on his father's farm, was educated at local schools, and after reading law was admitted (1803) to the bar.
. Click the link for more information. then proposed that an independent treasury be set up that would be isolated from all banks. The proposal met considerable opposition and failed to pass the House of Representatives in 1837 and again in the sessions of 1837󈞒 and 1838󈞓.

Creation of the System

In 1840 legislation for an independent treasury was passed and approved by the President however, the following year the Whigs repealed the law. The intention of the Whigs was to establish a new central bank, but the objections of President John Tyler Tyler, John,
1790�, 10th President of the United States, b. Charles City co., Va. Early Career

Educated at the College of William and Mary, he studied law under his father, John Tyler (1747�), governor of Virginia from 1808 to 1811, and was
. Click the link for more information. on constitutional grounds prevented the creation of another Bank of the United States. The Democrats won the presidential election of 1844, and measures were inaugurated to restore the Independent Treasury System.

The act of Aug., 1846, provided that the public revenues be retained in the Treasury building and in subtreasuries (see subtreasury subtreasury.
After President Andrew Jackson vetoed (July 10, 1832) the bill to recharter the Second Bank of the United States, the deposits were removed and placed in state banks that came to be called Jackson's "pets.
. Click the link for more information. ) in various cities. The Treasury was to pay out its own funds and be completely independent of the banking and financial system of the nation all payments by and to the government, moreover, were to be made in specie. The separation of the Treasury from the banking system was never completed, however the Treasury's operations continued to influence the money market, as specie payments to and from the government affected the amount of hard money in circulation.

Problems and Its Demise

Although the independent Treasury did restrict the reckless speculative expansion of credit, it also tended to create a new set of economic problems. In periods of prosperity, revenue surpluses accumulated in the Treasury, reducing hard money circulation, tightening credit, and restraining even legitimate expansion of trade and production. In periods of depression and panic, when banks suspended specie payments and hard money was hoarded, the government's insistence on being paid in specie tended to aggravate economic difficulties by limiting the amount of specie available for private credit.

The most serious weaknesses in the system were revealed during the Civil War under the pressures created by wartime expenditures, Congress passed the acts of 1863 and 1864 creating national banks. Exceptions were made to the prohibition against depositing government funds in private banks, and in certain cases payments to the government could be made in national bank notes.

After the Civil War, the independent Treasury continued in modified form, as each administration tried to cope with its weaknesses in various ways. Secretary of the Treasury Leslie M. Shaw (1902𔃅) made many innovations he attempted to use Treasury funds to expand and contract the money supply according to the nation's credit needs. The Panic of 1907, however, finally revealed the inability of the system to stabilize the money market agitation for a more effective banking system led to the passage of the Federal Reserve Act in 1913. Government funds were gradually transferred from subtreasuries to district banks, and an act of Congress in 1920 mandated the closing of the last subtreasuries in the following year, thus bringing the Independent Treasury System to an end.


See D. Kinley, The History, Organization, and Influence of the Independent Treasury of the United States (1893, repr. 1968) and The Independent Treasury of the United States (1910, repr. 1970) D. W. Dodwell, Treasuries and Central Banks (1934) P. Studenski and H. Krooss, Financial History of the United States (1963).

Responsibilities and the Chain of Command

Expected to be experts in the areas they manage, most independent agencies are headed by a presidentially-appointed board or commission, while a few, such as the EPA, are headed by a single presidentially-appointed administrator or director. Falling within the executive branch of government, independent agencies are overseen by Congress, but operate with more autonomy than federal agencies headed by Cabinet members such as the Departments of State or Treasury which must report directly to the president.

While independent agencies do not answer directly to the president, their department heads are appointed by the president, with the approval of the Senate. However, unlike the department heads of executive branch agencies, such as those making up the president’s Cabinet, who can be removed simply because of their political party affiliation, heads of independent executive agencies may be removed only in cases of poor performance or unethical activities. In addition, the organizational structure independent executive agencies allows them to create their own rules and performance standards, deal with conflicts, and discipline employees who violate agency regulations.

The History, Organization and Influence of the Independent Treasury, of the United States (Classic Reprint)

Under the terms of the law establishing the independent treasury the Government was expected to keep its own money and to have no connection with the banking insti tutions of the country. But the sixty years during which the law has been in operation show the same attitude Excerpt from The History, Organization and Influence of the Independent Treasury, of the United States

Under the terms of the law establishing the independent treasury the Government was expected to keep its own money and to have no connection with the banking insti tutions of the country. But the sixty years during which the law has been in operation show the same attitude of inconsistency as to the use of banks found in the preced ing sixty years. That is to say, there are times within this period when the treasury officers, interpreting the law strictly, have kept away from the supposed evil influ ence of the banks while there are other times in which the opposite spirit has been shown, and the use of banks has been resorted to so far as the law would allow, if not, indeed, beyond what, in the opinion of many, was legally proper.

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James Polk Independent Treasury System

Since the destruction of the national bank due to the work of Andrew Jackson, a new financial system was being sought in order to remove the threat speculation and notes could place on the economy. President Van Buren created the Independent Treasury System which was later attacked by the Whigs who desired the return of a national bank. By 1841, they had amassed enough of a following that they were able to begin the first step to destroying the Independent Treasury System.

However, President Polk stopped them from being able to completely succeed and by 1846 the System had been revived, bearing the American fiscal policy until it was replaced by the Federal Reserve System in 1913. If the national bank had been restored, the entire economy would have been under the control of only the one financial institution rather than a government regular system like the Federal Reserve. This meant if the wrong leadership had come into power, the result could have been very disastrous for the American people. In addition, it would have placed a huge amount of power into the hands of individuals selected only by Congress instead of being regulated by the whole government.

The Independent Treasury System was not only a political move to stop the Whigs from having more control in the government which could have eventually damaged democracy, but it was also a move to help safeguard the future of the American people by allowing them to have a choice in what happens. As long as aspects of the Independent Treasury System which eventually became the Federal Reserve was controlled through the government through voting channels, the American people will always have a say in what happens, especially when it comes to their money and their future.

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U.S. Department of the Treasury

The history of the Department of the Treasury began in the turmoil of the American Revolution, when the Continental Congress at Philadelphia deliberated the crucial issue of financing a war of independence against Great Britain. The Congress had no power to levy and collect taxes, nor was there a tangible basis for securing funds from foreign investors or governments. The delegates resolved to issue paper money in the form of bills of credit, promising redemption in coin on faith in the revolutionary cause. On June 22, 1775 -- only a few days after the Battle of Bunker Hill, Congress issued $2 million in bills on July 25, 28 citizens of Philadelphia were employed by the Congress to sign and number the currency.

On July 29, 1775, the Second Continental Congress assigned the responsibility for the administration of the revolutionary government's finances to Joint Continental Treasurers, George Clymer and Michael Hillegas. The Congress stipulated that each of the colonies contribute to the Continental government's funds.

(Left) Michael Hillegas, first Treasurer of the United States, 1775-89. (Right) Robert Morris, Superintendent of Finance, 1781-84. (Bureau of Engraving and Printing) Learn about the major duties and functions of each Treasury Department Office and Bureau.

This $65 Continental note was issued January 14, 1779. The Revolutionary money was printed in various denominations and signed by hand. (University Libraries of Notre Dame)

To ensure proper and efficient handling of the growing national debt in the face of weak economic and political ties between the colonies, the Congress, on February 17, 1776, designated a committee of five to superintend the Treasury, settle the accounts, and report periodically to the Congress. On April 1, a Treasury Office of Accounts, consisting of an Auditor General and clerks, was established to facilitate the settlement of claims and to keep the public accounts for the government of the United Colonies. With the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, the new-born republic as a sovereign nation was able to secure loans from abroad.

Despite the infusion of foreign and domestic loans to pay for a war of independence, the United Colonies were unable to establish a well-organized agency for financial administration. Michael Hillegas was first called Treasurer of the United States on May 14, 1777. The Treasury Office was reorganized three times between 1778 and 1781. The $241.5 million of paper Continental Dollars devalued rapidly. By May 1781, the dollar collapsed at a rate of from 500 to 1000 to 1 against hard currency. Protests against the worthless money swept the colonies and angry Americans coined the expression not worth a Continental.

Robert Morris was designated Superintendent of Finance in 1781 and restored stability to the nation's finances. Morris, a wealthy colonial merchant, was nicknamed "the Financier" because of his reputation for procuring funds or goods on a moment's notice. His staff included a Comptroller, a Treasurer, a Register, and auditors, who managed the country's finances through 1784, when Morris resigned because of ill health. The Treasury Board of three Commissioners continued to oversee the finances of the confederation of former colonies until September 1789.

Hamilton and the Establishment of the Department of the Treasury

The First Congress of the United States was called to convene in New York on March 4, 1789, marking the beginning of government under the Constitution. On September 2, 1789, Congress created a permanent institution for the management of government finances:

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That there shall be a Department of Treasury, in which shall be the following officers, namely: a Secretary of the Treasury, to be deemed head of the department a Comptroller, an Auditor, a Treasurer, a Register, and an Assistant to the Secretary of the Treasury, which assistant shall be appointed by the said Secretary.

Alexander Hamilton served as the first Secretary of the Treasury from 1789 to 1795. One of the most brilliant statesmen of the early American republic, he was killed in a duel in 1804. (Treasury Collection)

Alexander Hamilton took the oath of office as the first Secretary of the Treasury on September 11, 1789. Hamilton had served as George Washington's aide-de-camp during the Revolution, and was of great importance in the ratification of the Constitution. Because of his financial and managerial acumen, Hamilton was a logical choice for solving the problem of the new nation's heavy war debt.

Hamilton's first official act was to submit a report to Congress in which he laid the foundation for the nation's financial health. To the surprise of many legislators, he insisted upon federal assumption and dollar-for-dollar repayment of the countrys war debt of $75 million in order to revitalize the public credit: "[T]he debt of the United States' was the price of liberty. The faith of America has been repeatedly pledged for it, and with solemnities that give peculiar force to the obligation." Hamilton foresaw the development of industry and trade in the United States, and suggested that government revenues be based upon customs duties. His sound financial policies also inspired investment in the Bank of the United States, which acted as the government's fiscal agent.

The original Seal of the Department of the Treasury, designed in 1778. The Latin inscription is an abbreviation for the phrase Thesauri Americae Septentrionalis Sigillum, which means "The Seal of the Treasury of North America." The seal was simplified in 1968 and now bears the words "The Department of the Treasury" and the date of the Department's establishment, 1789. (Department of the Treasury)

The Treasury Building

In the first years of the American republic's existence, the government was quartered in Philadelphia until the new capital city, as authorized in the Constitution, was built on the banks of the Potomac River. In 1800, the government moved to Washington, D.C., and the Department of the Treasury moved into a porticoed Georgian-style building designed by an English architect, George Hadfield. This structure was burned by the British in 1814, but was rebuilt by White House architect James Hoban. This building was identical to three others located on lots adjacent to the White House, each housing one of the four original departments of the U.S. Government: State, War, Treasury and Navy. The Treasury Building, to the southeast of the White House, was burned by arsonists in 1833 with only the fireproof wing left standing.

View of the east entrance of the first Treasury Building in Washington, 1804. The principal entrance of the building faced south. It was burned to the ground by the British in 1814 and was replaced by an identical structure which was destroyed by fire in 1833. (Department of the Treasury)

The present Treasury Building is a magnificent granite structure in the Greek Revival style it was built over a period of 33 years between 1836 and 1869. The east and center wings, designed by Robert Mills, architect of the Washington Monument and the Patent Office Building, comprise the first part of the building constructed from 1836 to 1842. The most architecturally impressive feature of the Mills design is the east front colonnade running the length of the building. Each of the 30 columns is 36 feet tall and is carved out of a single block of granite. The interior design of the east and center wings is classically austere, in keeping with the Greek Revival style.

East front of the Main Treasury circa 1865. The 336-foot long colonnade was rebuilt with granite in 1908. On the right stands the old State Department building, which was razed in 1866 to make room for the north wing of Main Treasury. (Treasury Collection)

Later additions were made to the original wings, beginning with the construction of the south wing from 1855 to 1860 and the west wing from 1855 to 1864. The preliminary design of the wings was provided by Thomas Ustick Walter, architect of the dome of the U.S. Capitol, but architects Ammi B. Young and Isaiah Rogers refined the plans, designed the interior details, and supervised construction. While the exterior of the building was executed along the lines of the original Mills wings, the interiors of the later wings reflect changes in both building technology and aesthetic tastes. Iron columns and beams reinforced the building's brick vaults the architectural detailing became much more ornate, following mid-nineteenth century fashion.

The final addition to the Treasury Building was the north wing, built from 1867 to 1869. Its architect was Alfred B. Mullett, who subsequently designed the State, War, and Navy Building (now the Dwight D. Eisenhower Building) on the other side of the White House.

Solid granite columns are hoisted into place on the north portico of the Treasury Building, September 16, 1867. (National Archives)

Similar in construction and decor to the south and west wings, the north wing is unique as the site of the Cash Room -- a two-story marble hall in which the daily financial business of the U.S. Government could be transacted. The room was opened in 1869 as the site of President Ulysses S. Grants Inaugural Reception.

The Inaugural Reception of President Ulysses S. Grant took place in the Treasury Cash Room on March 4, 1869. The event was so crowded that guests had to wait two hours to retrieve their coats. (Treasury Collection)

The Treasury Building is the oldest departmental building in Washington and has had a great impact on the design of other government buildings. At the time of its completion, it was one of the largest office buildings in the world. It served as a barracks for soldiers during the Civil War and as the temporary White House for President Andrew Johnson following the assassination of President Lincoln in 1865.

Following the assassination of President Lincoln in 1865, Andrew Johnson used the Secretary's reception room as a temporary office before moving into the White House. (Treasury Collection)

The Development of the Department

Throughout the decades of American history, the Department of the Treasury has been a dynamic aspect of the government's service to the people, expanding and developing to accommodate the nation's needs. While the fiscal and collection functions have remained substantially constant for over two centuries, other incidental operations have varied greatly. Most of the functions assigned to Treasury by the Act of 1789 are still carried out by the Department of the Treasury, although the functions of the Comptroller have been assumed by the Comptroller General of the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

The interior of the Cash Room where government checks could be cashed as recently as 1976. The walls are made of seven varieties of American and imported marble. (Department of the Treasury)

Many functions of the Federal Government, regardless of fiscal significance, were first placed under the jurisdiction of Treasury other agencies or executive departments have since been created to administer some of these activities. The Postal Service, for example, was supervised by Treasury until 1829 the General Land Office, which was the nucleus of the Department of the Interior, was part of Treasury from 1812 to 1849. Operations associated with business were Treasury activities until the creation of the Department of Commerce and Labor in 1903 and the functions of the Office of the Supervising Architect of the Treasury were eventually established within the General Services Administration in 1949. The oldest seagoing armed service in the United States, the Coast Guard, remained in the Department of the Treasury until its transfer to the Department of Transportation in 1967. Other marine interests were administered by Treasury: the Coast Survey, the Lighthouse Service, and the Marine Hospital Service, from which the Public Health Service, and ultimately, the Department of Health and Human Services grew. The Bureau of Narcotics was part of Treasury until its functions were relocated in the Department of Justice as today's Drug Enforcement Agency. The Bureau of the Budget, established in Treasury in 1921, was transferred to the Executive Office of the President in 1939 and now oversees the spending of federal funds as the Office of Management and Budget.

Kill Devil Hills Life-Saving Station, with four crew members. Photo attributed to Wilbur and/or Orville Wright, circa 1902. Life-Saving functions were placed under Treasury by Congress in 1837. The U.S. Life-Saving Service became a separate bureau of the Treasury Department in 1878. In 1915 the Life-Saving Service merged with the Revenue Cutter Service to become the U.S. Coast Guard. The Coast Guard transferred to the Department of Transportation in 1967.
(U.S. Coast Guard)

Treasury is an agency that has been sculpted by the history of the nation it serves, though its basic functions, assigned by Congress from powers granted to Congress in the Constitution, remain constant. The Department has adapted to the ever-changing realities of the nation's development through periodic innovations and reorganizations. The Civil War, for example, had a great effect upon the activities of the Department of the Treasury: the loss of customs revenues from the seceded Southern states resulted in the establishment of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, as well as the printing of paper currency and the institution of the National

This is the only photograph of the world's first flight in a power driven heavier than air machine, which was invented by Wilbur and Orville Wright. This picture was taken by Surfman J.T. Daniels, a member of the crew of the Kill Devil Hills Lifesavings Stations, December 17, 1903. Five Treasury employees were the first eyewitnesses to this historic flight. (Library of Congress)

Banking System. The growth of international trade after World War I and America's involvement in World War II demanded an active role by the Department of the Treasury in the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944, which established the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and the leadership of the United States in promoting worldwide economic development.

As the 52nd Secretary of the Treasury (1934-1945), Henry Morgenthau, Jr. served from the Depression through World War II. During his tenure as Secretary of the Treasury, he served as chairman of the conference at Bretton Woods (1944) which established the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. (Treasury Collection)

About the Artist

The English-born artist William Garl Browne (1823 - 1894) established himself as a portrait painter in Richmond, Virginia in 1846. After traveling to Mexico to paint General Zachary Taylor and other heroes of the Mexican-American War, he concentrated on patrons in the southern states. In North Carolina and the Virginias, he painted portraits of prominent society figures, statesmen, and Confederate officers and their families. Browne's works hang today in the White House, the Treasury Department, and Washington's Corcoran Gallery of Art, and he is heavily represented in public and private collections in the South. His portrait of Robert J. Walker painted in 1879, ten years after the subject's death, was probably based on a photograph.

Daily catch-up: Top Treasury civil servant and Ed Balls combine to teach economic history

It was one of those accidental moments that will live in the memory. I went to King’s College, London, last Friday to sit in on the first seminar of Jon Davis’s new Masters course there, “The Treasury and Economic History since 1945.” Dr Davis’s co-lecturer for the course is Sir Nicholas Macpherson, the serving permanent secretary of the Treasury, which makes the course pretty special to start with.

Sir Nicholas, who is a visiting professor at King’s, is serious about encouraging the Treasury’s understanding of its own history. He recognises that with its high staff turnover, it is hard for it to retain institutional memory, and he said that it has always been one of the departments most prone to “reinventing the wheel”. This is one of the reasons for the course, which includes several Treasury officials among its students.

He is a good teacher, which we knew, because he has come to talk to our students before about New Labour in government. On Friday, he started by describing the origin of the Treasury as the earliest branch of the modern state, concerned with raising and spending money. It is differently structured from other departments, notionally governed by a board of Treasury lords, of whom the Prime Minister is the first – the others being mostly Government whips. “Which still matters when the Treasury has to do something such as nationalising a bank over a weekend,” he said: a junior official had to get a courier to get the Lords of the Treasury to sign the papers.

His brisk review of Treasury history took in the Barber Boom – when an otherwise little-known Chancellor held office during the year, 1973, in which the British economy grew faster, by more than 6 per cent, than any other year before or since – and came, via Howe, Lawson, Major, Lamont and Clarke, to Gordon Brown. He said chancellors could use Budgets as a platform for asserting their dominance over domestic policy. He was just explaining how Brown had invented something called the Pre-Budget Report, which was “originally quite a good idea” but which was “basically an opportunity to have a second Budget”, when Ed Balls, Brown’s adviser and recent shadow chancellor, walked in.

Sir Nicholas paused to acknowledge the arrival of the co-architect of the Pre-Budget Report, and carried on with his presentation, noting how David Cameron and George Osborne had learned from the tensions of the relationship between Brown and Tony Blair.

Then he invited Balls, as special guest, to comment. Balls took to the academic water as if it were his natural home. “Here’s five connected points which occur to me,” he began, starting by accusing Sir Nicholas of being “too modest” about the Treasury’s capabilities. He did think, though, that the Treasury had something of an “identity crisis” because it thinks it ought to be a narrow finance ministry, but when an economics ministry was set up to compete with it in the 1960s it worked to limit and to destroy it. And now, with Osborne’s trip to China, it is becoming the Foreign Office too.

He also said that the Bank of England now has more “engine-room capacity” than the Treasury, more “firepower” on economics.

The exchange of views between Balls and Macpherson was an education in itself, as they debated the change from Cabinet discussions about, and even votes on, economic policy under Wilson and Callaghan to the twin-power model of Prime Minister and Chancellor under Thatcher and Blair.

The last example of an economic question being taken to Cabinet, said Macpherson, concerned the euro. Kenneth Clarke insisted on his opposition to John Major’s wish to promise a referendum on the subject going to Cabinet in mid-1990s, where Major prevailed. (The 2003 decision on whether to seek to join was resolved in a series of meetings of small groups of Cabinet ministers.)

William Keegan, another visiting professor at King’s, was also on hand at the seminar to warn against “fashion and the pursuit of panaceas”, and to recount his experience of having worked at the Bank of England in the 1970s, when he admitted that, in consultations with the Treasury, “we didn’t necessarily make the changes to documents we were asked to make”.

Balls answered questions from students. Asked which Chancellor he most admired he said he thought highly of Denis Healey, and “not so highly” of Roy Jenkins: “Great chancellors who lose elections are not so great.”

One student asked what he thought of his successor as shadow chancellor, to which he replied diplomatically: “John McDonnell will find it challenging to reconcile a number of historical positions with those of his colleagues.”

It was a sparkling start to a new chapter in the Davis school of ultra-contemporary history, descended from the great Professor the Lord Hennessy and now based at the Policy Institute at King’s, in partnership with the Institute of Contemporary British History, whose head, Professor Richard Roberts, was also present.

Next year, Jon Davis and I teach our Masters course, “The Blair Government”, which we started at Queen Mary, University of London, and which has now moved to King’s. I cannot promise that Tony Blair will drop in whenever his name is mentioned, but we hope to bring to it that same chance to hear the “I was there”, “This is how it happened,” from those who were there at the highest level.

Independent Treasury - History

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The information which follows supplements that contained in the narrative of this handbook. It is so arranged as to enable you to make your own tour of the area. The numbers given correspond to the numbers on the map of the and park and vicinity.

This group is typical of the more than one million visitors who come annually from every corner of the world to see the Liberty Bell.

NO. 1 INDEPENDENCE HALL GROUP, In dependence Square, comprises Independence Hall, east and west wings, Congress Hall, and the Supreme Court building (Old City. Hall). INDEPENDENCE HALL, the center building, was erected between 1732 and 1753 as the State House of the Province of Pennsylvania here the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress met during the American Revolution, and the Federal Constitutional Convention sat in 1787. The Liberty Bell is located on the first floor of the tower. The WING BUILDINGS, erected originally in the 1730's, served as Provincial offices they were torn down in 1812 and reconstructed in 1898. The buildings now serve as the Information Centers of the park. CONGRESS HALL, built as the County Courthouse in 1787㭕, housed the Congress of the United States from 1790 to 1800. In the SUPREME COURT BUILDING, erected

In 1789㭗 as the City Hall of Philadelphia, sat the Supreme Court of the United States from 1791 to 1800. These buildings are open from 9 a. m. to 5 p. m. daily, including holidays. You should begin your tour in the Information Center, west wing of Independence Hall.

NO. 2. PHILOSOPHICAL HALL (American Philosophical Society) on Independence Square. In 1785, the Assembly of Pennsylvania granted the lot to the society. The building, erected between 1785 and 1789, harmonizes in style with the other buildings on the square. The American Philosophical Society, the oldest and one of the most distinguished learned societies in America, was started in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin. The building, still occupied by the society, is not part of Independence National Historical Park and is not open to the general public.

No. 3. LIBRARY HALL, (site of Library Company of Philadelphia), on north east corner of Library and Fifth Streets. Founded in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin and his friends, the Library Company of Philadelphia was the first subscription library in the American Colonies. The structure was demolished about 1884. Its reconstruction by the American Philosophical Society is scheduled for 1956.

NO. 4. SECOND BANK OF THE UNITED STATES (Old Custom House), 420 Chestnut Street. The building, patterned after the Parthenon by the architect William Strickland, and considered one of the finest examples of Greek revival architecture in the United States, was erected between 1819 and 1824 to house the Second Bank of the United States. After a bitter controversy between President Jackson and the Whigs over the renewal of the charter, the bank closed in 1836. From 1845 to 1934, the building was the Philadelphia Custom House. In 1939, the Treasury Department transferred the building to the Department of the Interior. It has been partially restored to its original design under the guidance of the National Park Service. Now exhibited and maintained by the Carl Schurz Memorial Foundation, the building is open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 a. m. to 5 p. m. The park administrative offices are in this building.

NO. 5. DILWORTH-TOOD-MOYLAN HOUSE, on northeast corner of Fourth and Walnut Streets. This small brick row house, typical of colonial Philadelphia, was built by Jonathan Dilworth, merchant, about 1775. From 1791 to 1793, it was the home of John Todd, Jr., and his wife, Dolly Payne. Following Todd's death during the yellow fever epidemic of 1793, his widow married James Madison, Congressman from Virginia, who later became the fourth President of the United States. From 1796 to 1810, it was the home of Gen. Stephen Moylan, mustermaster general and cavalry officer during the Revolution and commissioner of loans in 1793. The building is not open to the public pending its restoration by the National Park Service.

NO. 6. BISHOP WHITE HOUSE, 309 Walnut Street. This large brick residence, an excellent example of an early Philadelphia row house, was built shortly after the Revolution by the Reverend William White, Rector of Christ Church and St. Peter's Church from 1777, He became the first Bishop of Pennsylvania in 1787 and acted as a unifying force in reorganizing the Episcopal Church after the Revolution. After a long life of service to mankind, he died in his home on July 17, 1836. The building is not open to the public pending its restoration by the National Park Service.

No. 7. CITY TAVERN (site of), southwest corner of Second and Moravian Streets. A three-story structure, built about 1773, this was the most fashionable tavern in Philadelphia and was famous as the gathering place of members of the Continental Congresses and the Constitutional Convention and officials of the Federal Government from 1790 to 1800. The building was demolished about 1852.

NO. 8. PHILADELPHIA (Merchants') EXCHANGE, on the northeast corner of Third and Walnut Streets. Built between 1832 and 1834, this building is noteworthy for the beauty of its architecture. For many years it was the meeting place for merchants and was the center of the commercial activities of Philadelphia. The building is not open to the public.

NO. 9. FIRST BANK OF THE UNITED STATES, on the west side of South Third Street, between Walnut and Chestnut Streets. Built between 1795 and 1797, this structure is probably the oldest bank building in the United States. The First Bank of the United States was established as part of the comprehensive program developed by Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury, to rectify the disordered state of Government finances. The building, with its interesting classical facade, was occupied by the First Bank of the United States until the expiration of its charter in 1811. In the following year, the building was purchased by Stephen Girard, the wealthy merchant of Philadelphia, who opened his bank there. This building is not open to the public.

NO. 10. CARPENTERS HALL, 320 Chestnut Street. In September 1774, when the delegates to the first Continental Congress came to Philadelphia, they chose to meet in Carpenters Hall rather than the State House. The Hall, built in 1770, was the guild hall of the Carpenters' Company of Philadelphia, founded in 1724. In 1773, the building was also occupied by the Library Company of Philadelphia, whose books were used by the Continental Congress. Following the Revolution, the building was rented for many purposes by the Carpenters' Company. In 1857, they repaired the Hall and opened it as a historic shrine. The building and its grounds, still maintained by the Carpenters' Company of Philadelphia, is a part of Independence National Historical Park under a cooperative agreement with the Department of the interior and is open daily, except Sundays and holidays, from 9 a. m. to 4 p. m. free of charge.

NO. 11. FRANKLIN COURT (site of Benjamin Franklin's home), on Orianna Street, south of Market Street. In this court, entered through a picturesque archway on Market Street, stood the imposing brick house of Benjamin Franklin from 1765 to 1812. Until 1785, Franklin lived in the house for only a year, since he served as Provincial agent in England from 1764 to 1775 and as a Commissioner to France from 1776 to 1785. In 1776, however, he served on the committee named by the Continental Congress to draft the Declaration of Independence. Upon his return to Philadelphia, he was elected President of Pennsylvania, and, in 1787, he was a delegate to the Federal Constitutional Convention. After a long and worthy life, Benjamin Franklin died in his home on April 17, 1790, at the age of 84. The house was demolished about 20 years after his death. Archeological investigation has uncovered parts of the original foundation of Franklin's house.

Nos. 12 AND 13. CHRIST CHURCH, on west side of Second Street, north of Market Street, and CEMETERY, at Fifth and Arch Streets. Founded in 1695 and built between 1727 and 1754, Christ Church, one of the most famous churches in America, had in its congregation many leading figures of the Revolution, including Washington, Franklin, Robert Morris, and Francis Hopkinson. Architecturally, the building, with its 200-foot steeple, is a monument to colonial craftsmanship—one of the largest and most beautiful structures in 18th-century America. Ecclesiastically, Christ Church is famous as the scene of the post-Revolutionary organization of the Episcopal Church. Its rector, William White, was the first Bishop of Pennsylvania and he second American prelate. Seven signers of the Declaration of Independence, as well as four signers of the Constitution, are buried at the church and in the cemetery. Franklin's grave is at the corner of Fifth and Arch Streets. The preservation of the church is assured by a cooperative agreement made in 1950 between the Department of the Interior and the Corporation of Christ Church. The church and grounds are open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

NO. 14. GLORIA DEI (OLD SWEDES') CHURCH, at Swanson Street and Delaware Avenue, is the oldest church building in Pennsylvania. The present structure, erected in 1700, replaced a log church built in 1677. The Swedes preceded the English to this part of the New World and began the Gloria Dei congregation in 1646. For almost two centuries this church was under the Swedish hierarchy, but after the Scandinavians had been absorbed into the general American population, Gloria Dei applied for admission into the Episcopal Church and was received by the Bishop of Pennsylvania in 1845. Swedish treasures are plentiful in the church to this day: many old documents and books carved cherubim (imported in 1643) and the baptismal font. The church is nine blocks south from Market Street to Christian Street, then east to Delaware Avenue. Assurance that the church will be preserved unchanged is given in a cooperative agreement with the Department of the Interior. It is open to the public from 9 a. m. to 5 p. m. daily.

NO. 15. DESHLER-MORRIS HOUSE, 5442 Germantown Avenue. President Washington lived in this house during the fall of 1793 and summer of 1794.

It may be considered the oldest "White House" standing. Erected by David Deshler in 1772㭅, it was bought in 1792 by Col. Isaac Franks, who had served in the Revolutionary War. The latter rented it to Washington, who moved out of Philadelphia during the yellow fever epidemic of 1793. Bequeathed by the Morris family to the United States Government in 1949, the house has been restored and is today exhibited by the Germantown Historical Society in cooperation with the National Park Service. It is open daily except Monday, from 2 p. m. to 5 p. m., with an admission fee of 25 cents for adults and 10 cents for children. The house may be reached by public or private transportation: north on Fifth Street to Germantown Avenue, then northwest about 3.5 miles.

Other points of historic interest in Old Philadelphia in the neighborhood of Independence National Historical Park are:

NO. 16. ST. MARY'S ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, west side of South Fourth Street between Locust and Spruce Streets


NO. 18. HOLY TRINITY ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, northwest corner of South Sixth and Spruce Streets

NO. 19. OLD PINE STREET PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, southwest corner of Pine and South Fourth Streets

NO. 20. ST. PETER'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH, southwest corner of Pine and South Third Streets

NO. 21. POWEL HOUSE, 244 South Third Street

NO. 22. ST. PAUL'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH (City Mission), east side of South Third Street and South of Walnut Street

NO. 23. ST. JOSEPH'S ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, south side of Walnut Street between Third and Fourth Streets

NO. 24. BETSY ROSS HOUSE, 239 Arch Street

NO. 25. FRIENDS MEETING HOUSE, Southside of Arch Street between Third and Fourth Streets

NO. 26. FREE QUAKER MEETING HOUSE, southwest corner of North Fifth and Arch Streets

James K. Polk: Domestic Affairs

James K. Polk's agenda, unlike that of his two immediate predecessors, was largely driven by foreign policy considerations, namely, territorial expansion and foreign trade. Each of these, however, promised profound domestic consequences, the former in terms of the slavery question and the latter in terms of what to do about tariff levels. In addition, Polk had promised during the campaign to revive the now moribund Independent Treasury system, first enacted in 1840 during the presidency of Martin Van Buren but repealed a year later by a Whig-dominated Congress. Thus, Polk intended to address four of the most contentious issues of the Jacksonian Era, each of which had sectional implications: territorial expansion, slavery, banking, and the tariff. Of these, slavery had been the least debated at the national level with the Mexican War under Polk, however, this would change.

Walker Tariff of 1846

During his election campaign Polk had stated his opposition to protective tariffs but not to tariffs that might in some way provide protection for certain goods by making imports unaffordable. But at what point does a tariff rate on any given item become protective? To answer this question, Polk soon after his inauguration commissioned a study of tariff levels from his secretary of the treasury, Robert J. Walker. Following his nationwide survey, Walker suggested a much more significant reduction in tariff rates than Polk had intimated to northeastern Democrats he would support. Soon a bill was before the U.S. Congress, despite opposition from within Polk's own cabinet. After a debate along largely sectional lines, with southerners and westerners favoring the new tariff bill and all but a few northerners opposing it, Vice President George M. Dallas cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate. Polk quickly signed into law what became known as the Walker Tariff. The Walker Tariff moved rates downward towards revenue-only levels and dropped the policy of an ad valorem rate (a percent of the value of the goods) in favor of a set rate regardless of the value. A few commodities were listed as duty-free.

Independent Treasury Act of 1846

With his hard-won victory in the tariff debate, Polk next moved to revive the Independent Treasury Act that President Martin Van Buren had signed into law in 1840 and the Whig-dominated Congress had repealed the next year. The act established independent treasury deposit offices separate from private or state banks to receive all government funds. The system was designed to be a long term replacement for both the Second Bank of the United States, which Jackson had "killed," and a remedy for the ensuing wild speculation resulting from Jackson's policies that contributed to the major depression of the late 1830s. The Whigs had repealed the act as a step toward recreating an institution more similar to the Second Bank of the United States. The new Independent Treasury established by Polk entrusted the federal government with the exclusive management of government funds and required that disbursements be made in hard specie, such as gold or silver, or in paper backed by gold or silver. This would, hopefully, avoid undue speculation in western lands as the nation expanded its territory.

Westward Expansion

The Mexican War (see Foreign Affairs section) progressed too rapidly and too decisively for much antiwar sentiment to gain wide support at home. The most substantial opposition came from New England Whigs, Christian pacifists, and antislavery or abolitionist Americans. What these groups had in common was not so much a rejection of a belief in American's Manifest Destiny. Rather they objected to using military force to spread American republican institutions, rather peaceful annexation. For most opponents, the war was a transparent attempt to extend slavery into new territories that would become new slave states, thus ensuring that the South would control Congress and the presidency into the foreseeable future. In this heated atmosphere, it is understandable that one of the main domestic issues during James K. Polk's presidency was the extension of slavery into new American territories.

Wilmot Proviso: Slavery in the New Territories

On August 8, 1846, Democratic Congressman David Wilmot of Pennsylvania introduced an amendment to an Army appropriations (spending) bill that brought the slavery issue to a head. The "Wilmot Proviso" asserted that "neither slavery not involuntary servitude shall ever exist in any part of" the territory acquired from Mexico. Wilmot's amendment passed in the House but failed even to come to a vote in the Senate. Whether the amendment won approval or not was less consequential than the fact that the debate over the Wilmot Proviso revealed a growing sectional rift within the two major parties. While nearly all northern Democrats joined with all northern Whigs to support the amendment, southern Democrats and southern Whigs voted against it. "Mr. Polk's War" had clearly exposed the old wound of sectionalism, and this time it threatened to split even the reliably pro-slavery Democratic Party.

The issue also weakened Polk with his most avid southern supporters, who rallied around John C. Calhoun of South Carolina. Calhoun had formulated "the southern rights position" to the Wilmot Proviso, introducing resolutions in the Senate affirming the rights of slave owners to transport their "human chattel" anywhere in the territories of the United States. Polk, on the other hand, endorsed the idea of extending the old Missouri Compromise line of 36°30' to the Pacific Ocean. This would have excluded slavery from present-day Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, and the northern half of California while allowing it in present-day New Mexico, Arizona, and southern California. At the end of Polk's term, the issue of slavery in the new territories loomed as one of the key issues facing the nation.


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