The Origins of the Federal Reserve: Quote List

The following is a list of quotes I found worth keeping, sharing, processing, writing about, or in general just enjoy. As is typical, I will attempt to write about these quotes. Either how they personally effected me, or just a couple interesting observations on it.

Origins of the Federal Reserve – Murray Rothbard

The Beginnings of the “Reform” Movement: The Indianapolis Monetary Convention – Pg 15

The Republicans had long been the party of prohibition and of greenback inflation and opposition to gold. But since the early 1890s, the Rockefeller forces, dominant in their home state of Ohio and nationally in the Republican party, had decided to quietly ditch prohibition as a political embarrassment and as a grave deterrent to obtaining votes from the increasingly powerful bloc of German-American voters.

In the summer of 1896, anticipating the defeat of the gold forces at the Democratic convention, the Morgans, previously dominant in the Democratic party, approached the McKinley–Mark Hanna–Rockefeller forces through their rising young satrap, Congressman Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts. Lodge offered the Rockefeller forces a deal: the Morgans would support McKinley for president, and neither sit home nor back a third, Gold Democrat party, provided that McKinley pledged himself to a gold standard. The deal was struck, and many previously hard-money Democrats shifted to the Republicans.

The nature of the American political-party system was now drastically changed: what was previously a tightly fought struggle between hard-money, free-trade, laissez-faire Democrats on the one hand, and inflationist, protectionist, statist Republicans on the other, with the Democrats slowly but surely gaining ascendancy by the early 1890s, was now a party system dominated by the Republicans until the depression election of 1932.

The Panic of 1907 and Mobilization for a Central Bank – Pg 93

With the New York monetary conference over, it was now time for Aldrich, surrounded by a few of the topmost leaders of the financial elite, to go off in seclusion and hammer out a detailed plan around which all parts of the central-bank movement could rally. Someone in the Aldrich inner circle, probably Morgan partner Henry P. Davison, got the idea of convening a small group of top leaders in a super-secret conclave to draft the central-bank bill. On November 22, 1910, Senator Aldrich, with a handful of companions, set forth in a privately chartered railroad car from Hoboken, New Jersey to the coast of Georgia, where they sailed to an exclusive retreat, the Jekyll Island Club. Facilities for their meeting were arranged by club member and coowner J. P. Morgan. The cover story released to the press was that this was a simple duck-hunting expedition, and the conferees took elaborate precautions on the trips there and back to preserve their secrecy. Thus, the attendees addressed each other only by first name, and the railroad car was kept dark and closed off from reporters or other travelers on the train. One reporter apparently caught on to the purpose of the meeting, but was in some way persuaded by Henry P. Davison to maintain silence.

The conferees worked for a solid week at Jekyll Island to hammer out the draft of the Federal Reserve bill. In addition to Aldrich, the conferees included Henry P. Davison, Morgan partner; Paul Warburg, whose address in the spring had greatly impressed Aldrich; Frank A. Vanderlip, vice president of the National City Bank of New York; and finally, A. Piatt Andrew, head of the NMC staff, who had recently been made assistant secretary of the treasury by President Taft. After a week of meetings, the six men had forged a plan for a central bank, which eventually became the Aldrich Bill. Vanderlip acted as secretary of the meeting and contributed the final writing.

The only substantial disagreement was tactical, with Aldrich attempting to hold out for a straightforward central bank on the European model, while Warburg and the other bankers insisted that the reality of central control be cloaked in the politically palatable camouflage of “decentralization.” It is amusing that the bankers were the more politically astute, while the politician Aldrich wanted to waive political considerations. Warburg and the bankers won out, and the final draft was basically the Warburg plan with a decentralized patina taken from Morawetz.

The financial power elite now had themselves a bill. The significance of the composition of the small meeting must be stressed: two Rockefeller men (Aldrich, Vanderlip), two Morgans (Davison and Norton), one Kuhn, Loeb person (Warburg), and one economist friendly to both camps (Andrew) (Rothbard 1984, pp. 99–101; Vanderlip 1935, pp. 210–19).

After working on some revisions of the Jekyll Island draft with Forgan and George Reynolds, Aldrich presented the Jekyll Island draft as the Aldrich Plan to the full NMC in January 1911. But here an unusual event occurred. Instead of quickly presenting this Aldrich Bill to the Congress, its drafters waited for a full year, until January 1912. Why the unprecedented year’s delay?

The problem was that the Democrats swept the Congressional elections in 1910, and Aldrich, disheartened, decided not to run for reelection to the Senate the following year. The Democratic triumph meant that the reformers had to devote a year of intensive agitation to convert the Democrats, and to intensify propaganda to the rest of banking, business, and the public. In short, the reformers needed to regroup and accelerate their agitation.


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