Carter Glass

Carter Glass, the second of three Treasury Secretaries appointed by President Woodrow Wilson, was born in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1858. He received little formal education but while still in his early 20s was able to buy and run a Lynchburg newspaper. The successful business piqued his interest in politics and later served as a platform for his own political aspirations, which led him into the Virginia legislature and constitutional convention of 1901-2. In 1902 he was elected to the House of Representatives. He became chairman of the House Committee on Banking and Currency in 1913 and played an important role in the bill creating the Federal Reserve.

As Treasury Secretary, Glass helped to consolidate the government’s debt, which had soared from about 2.5% to 32.5% of GDP between 1916 and 1919, by successfully marketing $5 billion worth of Victory Liberty Loan bonds.

But Glass is most famous for his career in the US Senate, which spanned from February 1920 until his death in May 1946, especially his role in New Deal banking reform legislation like the Banking Act of 1933. That law established the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and a section of it, commonly known as the Glass-Steagall Act, separated commercial banking (taking deposits and making loans) from investment banking (helping issue corporate securities and arrange mergers) until its repeal in 1999.

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