Andrew Jackson

Portrait of Andrew Jackson by Thomas Sully

President Andrew Jackson is infamous for vetoing the re-charter of the Second Bank of the United States, a federally chartered central bank, and then prematurely removing the government’s funds from it, also known as his “Bank War.” This took place during the height of the outbreak in Manhattan in July.

Jackson, mistrustful of banks and paper money and relatively financially uneducated, is also known for extinguishing the national debt in 1835, the only US President ever to do so. Believing that the praise he received for the elimination of the debt and his re-election in 1833 were signs of support for his financial policies, Jackson ordered the premature removal of the government’s deposits from the Bank in an attempt to kill it outright.

Jackson’s victory over the Bank is considered questionable because this and other policies ultimately destabilized the financial system and economy, rendering them susceptible to shocks. When the US suffered a banking panic in 1837, the economy slipped into a severe depression that lasted until 1844. The resulting decline in government revenues ironically led to deficits that necessitated the rebirth of the national debt.