Regulators honor founding of Freedman’s Bank 155 years ago

Honoring the 155th anniversary of the “Freedman’s Bank” – the financial institution created in the wake of the Civil War to provide financial services (and opportunity) to recently emancipated enslaved people – brought together federal financial institution regulators in Washington Tuesday.

Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Chairman Jelena McWilliams, Federal Reserve Board Gov. Michelle Bowman, National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Board Chairman Rodney Hood, and Treasury Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions Bimel Patel met to commemorate and participate in a panel discussion honoring the anniversary of the founding of the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Co.

The bank – which opened its first office directly across from the U.S. Treasury in Washington on Pennsylvania Ave. in 1865 – was private corporation chartered by the federal government to encourage and guide economic development of newly emancipated African-American communities following the Civil War. At its heyday, according to the National Archives, the bank held more than $57 million in deposits, but then failed in 1874 as a result of a lagging economy, financial mismanagement and fraud.

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