Biddle, Nicholas, 1786-1844
- Existence: 1786 - 1844
Nicholas Biddle (January 8, 1786 – February 27, 1844) was an American financier who served as the third and last president of the Second Bank of the United States (chartered 1816–1836). He also served in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. He is best known for his role in the Bank War.
A member of the prominent Biddle family of Philadelphia, Nicholas Biddle worked for prominent officials such as John Armstrong Jr. and James Monroe in his youth. After returning to Philadelphia, he won election to the state legislature. While serving in the legislature, he successfully lobbied Congress and President Monroe for the creation of a new central bank, which became known as the Second Bank of the United States. In 1822, Monroe appointed Biddle as the third president of the bank. Biddle would continue to serve as the bank's president for several years, during which time he exercised power over the nation's money supply and interest rates, seeking to prevent economic crises.
At the request of Henry Clay and other Whigs, Biddle asked Democratic President Andrew Jackson to renew the bank's federal charter in 1832. Jackson, who held a deep hostility to many banks, declined to renew the charter, beginning a political debate known as the Bank War. When Jackson transferred the federal government's deposits to several state banks, Biddle raised interest rates, causing a mild economic recession. The federal charter expired in 1836, but the bank was re-chartered by Pennsylvania. Biddle continued to serve as president of the bank until 1839.
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