Quotations - Bank

by Thomas Jefferson


But it will be asked, are we to have no banks? Are merchants and others to be deprived of the resources of short accommodations, found so convenient? I answer, let us have banks; but let them be such as are alone to be found in any country on earth, except Great Britain. There is not a bank of discount on the continent of Europe...which offers anything but cash in exchange for discounted bills. No one has a natural right to the trade of a money lender, but he who has the money to lend. Let those then, among us, who have a monied capital, and who prefer employing it in loans rather than otherwise, set up banks, and give cash or national bills for the notes they discount.

(Letter to J.W. Eppes, 1813). THOMAS JEFFERSON ON DEMOCRACY 77 (S. Padover Ed. 1953).

If the Treasury had ventured its credit in bills of circulating size, as of five or ten dollars, they would have been greedily received by our people in preference to bank paper. But unhappily... the country (has) delivered itself bound hand and foot to the bold and bankrupt adventurers who pretend to be money-holders, whom it could have crushed at any moment.

(Letter to Gallatin, October 16, 1815).

In this state of things, we are called upon to add ninety millions more to the circulation. Proceeding in this career, it is infallible that we must end where the revolutionary war ended...

If Treasury bills are emitted on a tax appropriated for their redemption in fifteen years and...bearing interest of six percent, there is no one who would not take them in preference to the bank paper now afloat...[These bills would be a kind of combination bond and circulating currency, issued in small denominations and bearing interest at the rate of 6 per cent]. Their credit once established, others might be emitted bottomed also on a tax, but not bearing interest; and if ever their credit faltered...these bills alone should be received as specie. And finally: The States should...transfer the right of issuing circulating currency to Congress exclusively, in perpetuum...

(Letter to Eppes).


Hamiltons financial system...had two objects: First, as a puzzle, to exclude popular understanding and inquiry; Second, as a machine for corruption of the legislature; for he avowed the opinion, that man could be governed only by one of two motives only, force or interest; force he observed, in this country was out of the question, and the interests, therefore, of the members must be laid hold of, to keep the legislature in unison with the executive.

(Feb. 4, 1818).


If the debt which the banking companies owe be a is to themselves alone, who are realizing a solid interest of eight to ten per cent on it. As to the public, these companies have banished all our gold and silver medium, which...before we had without interest, which never could have perished in our hands, and would have been our salvation now in the hour of war; instead of which they have given us two hundred millions of froth and bubble, on which we are to pay them heavy interest...

(Letter to Eppes).

Here we have a set of people...who have bestowed on us the great blessing of running in out debt about 200 millions of dollars, without our knowing who they are or what they are...And to fill up the measure of blessings, instead of paying, they receive an interest on what they owe...And they are so ready still to deal out their liberalities to us that they are willing to let themselves run our debt ninety millions more, on our paying them the same premium of six or eight percent interest...

(Letter to Eppes, November 6, 1813).

(T)he toleration of banks of paper discount, costs the United States one-half of their war taxes, or, in other words, doubles the expenses of every war.

(Letter to Eppes).


The monopoly of a single bank is certainly an evil.

(Letter to Gallatin, 1802). THOMAS JEFFERSON ON DEMOCRACY 77 (S. Padover Ed. 1953).

The bill for establishing a National Bank undertakes among other things...7. To give them the sole and exclusive right of banking under the national authority; and so far is against the laws of monopoly... The incorporation of a bank, and the powers assumed by this bill, have not, in my opinion, been delegated to the United States by the Constitution.

(Opinion Opposing the Bank, February 15, 1791).


My wish was to see both Houses of Congress cleansed of all persons interested in the bank or public stocks; and that a pure legislature being given us, I should always be ready to acquiesce under their deliberations, even if contrary to my own opinions; for I subscribe to the principle, that the will of the majority, honestly expressed, should give law.


This institution (Bank of the U.S.) is one of the most deadly hostility existing against the principles and form of our institution like this, penetrating by its branches every part of the Union, acting by command and in phalanx, may, in a critical moment, upset the government.

(Letter to Gallatin, 1803). THOMAS JEFFERSON ON DEMOCRACY 76 (S. Padover Ed. 1953).

I hope we shall take warning from the example and crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country.

(Letter to Logan, 1816). THOMAS JEFFERSON ON DEMOCRACY 138 (S. Padover Ed. 1953).

We are undone...if this banking mania be not suppressed. Aut Carthago, aut Roma delenda est (Either Carthage or Rome must be destroyed). The war, had it proceeded, would have upset our government; and a new one, whenever tried, will do it. And so it must be while our money, the nerve of war, is much or little, real or imaginary, as our bitterest enemies choose to make it. Put down the banks, and if this country could not be carried through the longest war against her most powerful enemy, without ever knowing the want of a dollar, without dependence on the traitorous classes of her citizens, without bearing hard on the resources of her people, or loading the public with an indefinite burthen of debt, I know nothing of my countrymen. Not by any novel project, not by any charlatenerie, but by ordinary and well-experienced means; by the total prohibition of all private paper at all times, by reasonable taxes in war aided by the necessary emissions of public paper of circulating size, this bottomed on special taxes, redeemable annually as this special tax comes in.

(Letter to Gallatin, October 16, 1815). THOMAS JEFFERSON ON DEMOCRACY 78 (S. Padover Ed. 1953).

Her (Englands) examples have fearful influence on us. In copying her we do not seem to consider that like premises produce like consequences. The bank mania is one of the most threatening of these imitations. It is raising on a monied aristocracy in our country which has already set the government at defiance, and although forced at length to yield a little on this first essay of their strength, their principles are unyielded and unyielding. These have taken deep root in the hearts of that class from which our legislators are drawn, and the sop to Cerberus from fable has become history. Their principles lay hold of the good, their pelf of the bad, and thus those whom the constitution had placed as guards to its portals, are sophisticated or suborned from their duties. That paper money has some advantages, is admitted. But that its abuses also are inevitable, and, by breaking up the measure of value, makes a lottery of all private property, cannot be denied. Shall we ever be able to put a constitutional veto on it?

(Letter to Dr. J.B. Stuart, 1817). THOMAS JEFFERSON ON DEMOCRACY 79 (S. Padover Ed. 1953).


If the American People ever allow the banks to control the issuance of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers occupied. The issuing power of money should be taken from the bankers and restored to Congress and the people to whom it belongs. I sincerely believe the banking institutions having the issuing power of money are more dangerous to liberty than standing armies.

We are completely saddled and bridled, and the bank is so firmly mounted on us that we must go where they ill guide.

The dominion which the banking institutions have obtained over the minds of our citizens...must be broken, or it will break us.

(Letter to James Monroe, January 1, 1815).

The system of banks which we have both equally and ever reprobated, I contemplate as a blot in all our (state) constitutions, which, if not corrected, will end in their destruction.

(Letter to John Taylor, May 28, 1816).


It is known that the very power now proposed as a means, was rejected as an end by the convention which formed the constitu- tion.