640px Second Bank of the United States front







10 April 1816

President James Madison charters the second Bank of the United States [BUS] for 20 years. The bank begins its operations at its main branch in Philadelphia on 7 January 1817.

1819-1821 Economic crisis largely due to the inept policies of the BUS, which extended large credits in paper money for the westward expansion and then contracted credit suddenly. Andrew Jackson, a victim of that crisis, would nurse a lifelong anger for the misery it caused and would destroy the BUS by refusing to renew its charter in 1836.

March 4, 1829

Beginning of Andrew Jackson’s first term in office.

March 1829

In the letters of the US Treasury to banks it is stated that the aim of the new administration is “to retire the public debt as fast as may safely be done.” The federal debt would be extinguished by 1835.

April 5, 1829

Van Buren is appointed Jackson’s secretary of state.

December 8, 1829

Jackson’s first annual message to Congress, in which he questioned the Bank’s constitutionality and expediency. He alleged that the bank had failed to establish a sound and uniform currency. Jackson suggested that a new national bank be established “upon the credit of the government.” The suggestion was negatively appraised since it would have opened the door to paper money excesses and political corruption.

February 1831

T. H. Benton’s first speech against the Bank with the purpose of introducing a joint resolution. The aim was to start debate about the re-charter in both Houses of Congress. Yeas 20/ Nos 23.

January 1831 — May 1832

BUS increases its line of discounts, especially to the West, from 40 million to 70 million.

March 1831

Nicholas Biddle is empowered by the Bank to dispose freely of its resources to make propaganda in the press, give loans to senators, and take any political action serving the Bank’s interests.

May 23, 1831

Van Buren resigns from his post as secretary of state, so that Andrew Jackson can replace the cabinet blocked by partisans of James Calhoun. As vice-president, Calhoun had relied on the Peggy Eaton affair and his friends in the cabinet to block Jackson’s government for two years. 

June 1831–January 1832

Van Buren is appointed Minister to Britain but recalled after six months as Senate cancels his appointment. Calhoun casts the deciding vote. Van Buren returns to NY in the summer of 1832.

January 1832

Petition for re-charter.

February 1832

“A new member,” Mr. Clayton from Georgia, introduces into the House of Representatives a resolution for inquiry into the activities of the BUS. The memorandum “rolled around his finger” is written by Benton.

March 1832

As a result of Clayton’s resolution, a committee of the House of Representatives is empowered to control the activities of the Bank and report to Congress. Three reports are the result: one negative, one positive, and a third one, written by J. Q. Adams alone, in favor of the Bank.


Benton’s second speech, about the state of currency.

June 1832

The petition for re-charter passes the two Houses.

July 5, 1832

Van Buren returns from Europe.

July 10, 1832

Andrew Jackson vetoes the re-charter. As the session is drawing to a close, there is no possibility for the friends of the bank to get a two thirds majority in the House to overrule the veto.

July 11, 1832

Daniel Webster’s speech in the Senate about the impending distress of the nation as a result of the ceasing of the bank’s activity.

close of the 1832 session

The bank postpones the payment of the “three per cent debt,” the last instalment of the debt from the time of the Revolution, even though Jackson had wanted it paid by the end of his first Presidency. In this way, Jackson cannot use the payment of the national debt as an advantage to himself in the election.

November 1832

Presidential election held on the bank issue. The candidate of the bank is Henry Clay, the senator from Kentucky. Jackson wins by a large majority. Van Buren is elected Andrew Jackson’s vice-president.

March 1833

Jackson enters a new term of office. Van Buren inaugurated as vice-president.

August―December 1833

Loan contraction policy carried out by the Bank as a response to the removal of the deposits. Biddle wanted to keep the bank strong and exerted a considerable pressure on the state banks, especially in New York. The policy of contraction was the cause of the “public distress.” The bank also prolonged the crisis beyond the time necessary to provide for its own safety, that is beyond January 1834 (Smith 167). The curtailment policy was ended on July 1 1834.

September 24, 1833

The dismissal of W. J. Duane and the appointment of Roger B. Taney as Secretary of the Treasury. Duane had been unwilling to carry out the government policy of withdrawing the deposits.

October 1, 1833

Removal of the governmental deposits from the BUS. Government revenues are placed in seven “pet” state banks. In fact, there is no removal in the proper sense of the word. The moneys remain in the vaults of the BUS but are paid out in the ordinary course of expense. Only the new revenues are placed in the state banks. The “removal” of the deposits goes into effect during the congressional recess. Congress learns about it at the start of the session, in December 1833.

December 3, 1833

Taney’s report as to the reasons for the removal of the deposits.

December 16, 1933

Van Buren presides over the Senate for the first time.

December 26, 1833

Clay’s attack on the President and the Secretary of the Treasury.

December 30, 1833

First distress memorial from nine state banks in Philadelphia.

January 1834

Second distress memorial from the Board of Trade.

March 18, 1834

Webster asks leave to introduce a bill to extend the charter of the bank another six years and restore the Treasury deposits after July 1. He attributes the falling federal revenues, reduced commerce, and high unemployment in the cities to the removal of the deposits. This is the occasion for Benton’s speech on gold and the benefits of the hard currency (Smith 168).

March 31, 1834

Clay’s attack on Taney and his supposed connection with the Maryland bank.

April 1834

The Whig Party is formed under the leadership of Henry Clay.

May 28, 1834

Clay’s proposition to restore the deposits to the vaults of the BUS.

June, 1834

Taney’s report on the economic and financial state of the nation. His statistics show that the economic distress was only on paper and that the revenues had actually increased. On this occasion, Benton delivers his fourth speech as a consequence of the other senators’ efforts to silence the report. The prosperity continued during the whole period that the bank was preparing to close down.

May 20-22, 1835

Van Buren nominated for president at the Democratic Convention in Baltimore. The Whigs would also nominate four candidates.

March 3, 1836

Expiration of the charter. The BUS becomes a state bank.

June 23, 1836

Jackson signs the Distribution Act, giving federal surplus revenue to the states.

December 1836

Martin van Buren elected the 8th President of the U.S.

February 1837

“Flour riots” in New York City, protesting high food prices, take place, signalling imminent depression. 

May 10 1837

New York banks suspend specie payments. The Panic of 1837 starts. More than 600 banks will fold in the following year.

September 5 1837

Van Buren proposes Independent Treasury in his message to Congress. The independent treasury system presupposes that the funds of the federal government are managed by the Treasury and its local branches, independently of a central bank system.

October 14 1837

Independent Treasury Act fails in the House after passing in the Senate.

March 31, 1840

Van Buren issues executive order limiting to a ten-hour day the work of all laborers on federal projects without reduction in pay.

July 4, 1840

Van Buren signs Independent Treasury Act, establishing subtreasuries in New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Charleston, New Orleans, St. Louis and Washington, D.C.

November 1840

Van Buren loses re-election against William Henry Harrison.


Bankruptcy of the BUS.

August 13, 1841

Whigs repeal the Independent Treasury Act. It would be signed back into law by President Polk in 1846. The independent treasury system would be used in the US until replaced by the Federal Reserve in 1914.

June 1854

Vacationing in Sorrento, van Buren starts work on his Autobiography. It would be published in 1920.




Preda, Roxana. “Chronology of The Second Bank of The United States 1816–1841.” In Ezra Pound’s (Post)modern Poetics and Politics. Logocentrism, Language and Truth. New York: Peter Lang, 2001. 282-4.

“Van Buren Timeline.” The Papers of Martin van Buren. vanburenpapers.org.

“Independent Treasury.” Wikipedia.



Cantos LII - LXXI

confucius adams 2