Primary Documents, The Fed and Central Banking

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    I am planning a mini-unit for my 11th grade economics classes where the students will analyze the arguments for and against central banking. First, could you recommend key primary documents for them to read so they can get a sense of the issues first hand? Secondly, would you recommend sticking to the Hamilton/Jefferson debate, the Fed Debate, the Jackson era debate, or a bit of each? I suppose this is an issue that has been debated on some level since the First National Bank was chartered; however, the majority of the materials I can put my hands on (as a public school teacher) seem to, surprise, consider this a case closed issue, Central Bank or bust! I would like to provide my students with a more well rounded view of central banking, in addition to teaching them how the Fed currently runs the show. Thanks.


    I would start with the Jefferson/Hamilton debate and move forward. Use Jefferson’s attack on the bank followed by Hamilton’s defense. I would also consult Taylor of Caroline’s Inquiry into the Principles and Policies of the Government of the United States has a very good chapter on banking. You can then address the issue with the rechartering of the Bank (narrowly passed the Senate and good info in the debates there on the bill), the Marshall Court via Mc. v. Maryland, and later Jackson’s veto of the recharter for 2nd BUS. William Gouge wrote an excellent treaty against central banking in 1833. Very Jeffersonian. There was some opposition to the National Banking Acts in the 1860s, but remember, the South was out of the Union at that point so the legislation was passed by a Northern pro-banking majority. As for the FED, see Pujo’s (of LA) opposition along with that of Glass (of VA) and C.A. Lindbergh of MN (considered a socialist but very Jeffersonian in his critique of the FED). Hope that helps.

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