22 Million Reasons Black America Doesn’t Trust Banks

“This bank is just what the freedmen need,” remarked President Abraham Lincoln on March 3, 1865, as he signed the Freedman’s Bank Act, authorizing the organization of a national bank for recently emancipated black Americans. A little more than a month later he was killed, making the Freedman’s Bank Lincoln’s last act of emancipation. His assassination, however, did not impede its rapid growth. By January 1874, less than ten years after the establishment of the Freedman’s Bank, deposits at its 34 branches across the United States totaled US$3,299,201 ($65,200,000 in current dollars). Despite such successful expansion, the Freedman’s Bank closed on June 28, 1874 under a shroud of suspicion and accusation. The story of the rise and collapse of the Freedman’s Bank is an important and little known episode in black and American history in the years following Emancipation.
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