Private Banks (Quotation)

Quotation: "If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their Fathers conquered...I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies... The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs."

Variations:

  1. "If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their Fathers conquered."

Sources consulted: Searching on the phrase "private banks"

  1. Papers of Thomas Jefferson Digital Edition
  2. Thomas Jefferson Retirement Papers
  3. Quotable Jefferson (searching in the index under "banks")
  4. Thomas Jefferson Papers collection in Hathi Trust Digital Library

Earliest known appearance in print: 1933[1]

Other attributions: None known.

Status: This quotation is at least partly spurious; see comments below.

Comments: This quotation is often cited as being in an 1802 letter to Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin, and/or "later published in The Debate Over the Recharter of the Bank Bill (1809)."

The first part of the quotation ("If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their Fathers conquered") has not been found anywhere in Thomas Jefferson's writings, to Albert Gallatin or otherwise. It is identified in Respectfully Quoted as spurious, and the editor further points out that the words "inflation" and "deflation" are not documented until after Jefferson's lifetime.[2]

The second part of the quotation ("I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies...") may well be a paraphrase of a statement Jefferson made in a letter to John Taylor in 1816. He wrote, "And I sincerely believe, with you, that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale."[3]

The third part of this quotation ("The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs") may be a misquotation of Jefferson's comment to John Wayles Eppes, "Bank-paper must be suppressed, and the circulating medium must be restored to the nation to whom it belongs."[4]

This first known occurence in print of the spurious first part with the two other quotations is in 1948, although the spurious portion actually appears after the two other quotations.[5]

Lastly, we have not found a record of any publication called The Debate Over the Recharter of the Bank Bill. There was certainly debate over the recharter of the National Bank leading up to its expiration in 1811, but a search of Congressional documents of that period yields none of the verbiage discussed above.

Further Sources

Footnotes

  • 1. “Patman Argues for Payment in Money,” Dallas (TX) Morning News, January16, 1933, sec. 1, pg. 4, col. 6.  This appearance includes only the first part of the quotation (“If the American people ever allow the private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and the corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.”)
  • 2. Suzy Platt, ed., Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations Requested from the Congressional Research Service (Washington D.C.: Library of Congress, 1989; Bartleby.com, 2003).
  • 3. Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, May 28, 1816, in Ford, 10:31.
  • 4. Thomas Jefferson to John Wayles Eppes, September 11, 1813, in PTJ:RS, 6:494.
  • 5. Thomas Robertson, Human Ecology: The Science of Social Adjustment (Glasgow: William Maclellan, 1948), 163.

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says

Thank you for clarifying, your work is appreciated!

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