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Bank of America (New York, NY)

City: New York

State: New York

The Bank of America was a banking house that began operation in New York City in June 1812. Promoters of the bank were stockholders in the First Bank of the United States. When Congress rejected a bill to re-charter the First Bank of the United States in March 1811, sponsors of the Bank of America hoped the majority of the old banks' capital would flow into the new bank, making it the leading financial institution in the United States. On June 2, 1812, the New York State Assembly chartered the Bank of America for twenty years with a capital of $6 million. The bank's charter stipulated that the new bank was to deposit $400,000 of this capital in the state common school fund, $100,000 in the literature fund to promote colleges and universities, and $100,000 in the state treasury for public works. The bank would loan a further $1 million to the state for the construction of roads and canals and another $1 million to farmers and manufacturers to improve and promote agriculture and industry. The bank opened with Oliver Wolcott as its first president. Financial pressures associated with the War of 1812 forced the directors to reduce the authorized capital from $6 million to $4 million and also reduce the respective amounts to be paid and loaned to the state. The directors subsequently further reduced the capitalization to $2 million. In May 1848, the bank had a capitalization of just over $2 million. By January 1862, its capitalization had grown to $3 million. During the Civil War, the bank participated with other banks in Boston and Philadelphia in loaning the federal government $150 million to prosecute the war.

J. Smith Homans, Jr., ed., The Bankers' Magazine and Statistical Register, vol 16 (New York: J. Smith Homans, 1861-'62), 622, 691; Martha J. Lamb, History of the City of New York: Its Origin, Rise and Progress (New York: Valentine's Manual, 1921), 3:584, 585; "An Act to Incorporate the Stockholders of the Bank of America," 2 June 1812, Laws of New York (1812), 126-33; The Bank of America: A Brief Account of An Historic Financial Institution and its Site (Boston: Walton Advertising & Printing, 1918), 19-26, 36, 38.