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Nicholas Biddle (Nicholas Biddle)

Nicholas Biddle

American Banker and Financier. He is probably best remembered as the president of the Second National Bank of the United States from 1822 to 1839, whose operating procedures and practices came into direct conflict with President Andrew Jackson. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, his father was devoted to the cause of American Independence. As a child, he was extremely intelligent and entered the University of Pennsylvania at the age of 10. The university refused to issue a college degree to a teenager and at the age of 15, he transferred to Princeton University and graduated in 1801 as the class valedictorian. He became the secretary to John Armstrong, a United States Minister to France, and went to Paris in 1804. He acquired his first experience in financial affairs through the participation in an audit relating to the Louisiana Purchase. He went to England where he served as the secretary for James Monroe, who at that time was the United States minister to the Court of Saint James. In 1807, he returned to Philadelphia to practice law and also took a position as the associate editor of a magazine called “Port-Folio” which was published from 1806 to 1823. After Captain Meriwether Lewis and William Clark returned from their expedition charting the new Louisiana Territory, he initially prepared, but was not officially credited with, their official report in a two-volume publication. He was elected to the Pennsylvania state legislature, serving from 1810 to 1811. He lobbied for the congressional rechartering of the Second Band of the United States, which occurred in 1816, and President James Monroe appointed him as the federal government director. He became its president in 1822 and was directed by President Monroe and Congress to compile a “Commercial Digest” of the laws and trade regulations of the world. During the Panic of 1819, the Bank was faulted for its tight credit policy, which was brought on in 1818 by the Bank, as the government’s fiscal agent, having to pay $4 million of interest payments in either gold or silver, on the bonds sold to European investors in 1803 to finance the Louisiana Purchase. This forced the Bank to demand payment in gold or silver for loans from other banks rather than bank notes, which ultimately led to the Panic of 1819. When Andrew Jackson was elected the United States President in 1828, he sought to dismantle the Bank by abolishing its federal charter. Biddle, in 1832, decided to apply for the Bank’s re-charter, even though it would not expire until 1836, in hopes that if Jackson chose to veto the bill, it would make him unpopular and cost him the 1836 Presidential election. Jackson vetoed the charter and in 1833 he withdrew US funds from the Bank. Faced with the loss of Federal deposits, Biddle raised interest rates to deliberately induce a recession, resulting in a mild financial panic from late-1833 to mid-1834. He and other Bank supporters tried unsuccessfully to renew the Bank’s charter and in April 1836, the Bank’s charter expired. It continued to run as a state-chartered bank and he resigned as the Bank’s president in 1839. In 1841, the Bank failed amidst the Panic of 1837 and he was arrested and charged with fraud but was acquitted. He died three years later while still involved in civil suits stemming from the Bank’s operations. (bio by: William Bjornstad)  Family links:  Parents:  Charles Biddle (1745 – 1821)  Hannah Shepard Biddle (____ – 1825)  Spouse:  Jane Margaret Craig Biddle (1793 – 1856)  Children:  Nicholas Craig Biddle (____ – 1814)*  Edward B. Biddle (1815 – 1872)*  Charles John Biddle (1819 – 1873)*  James Craig Biddle (1823 – 1910)*  Meta Craig Biddle Biddle (1825 – 1913)*  Adele Biddle (1828 – 1909)*  Jane Biddle (1830 – 1915)*  Siblings:  Mary Biddle Biddle (____ – 1854)*  Martha Rebecca Biddle Ireland (1778 – ____)*  William Shepard Biddle (1781 – 1835)*  James Biddle (1783 – 1848)*  Edward Biddle (1784 – 1800)*  Nicholas Biddle (1786 – 1844)  Charles Biddle (1787 – 1836)*  Thomas Biddle (1790 – 1831)*  John Biddle (1792 – 1859)*  Richard Biddle (1796 – 1847)* *Calculated relationship


  • January, 08, 1786
  • USA


  • February, 02, 1844
  • USA


  • Saint Peter's Episcopal Churchyard
  • Pennsylvania
  • USA

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