Click a president on the timeline to find out how he impacted the U.S. financially. Think we left one out? Email us.

2008 - George W. Bush 1971 - Richard Nixon 1930 - Herbert Hoover 1965 - Lyndon B. Johnson 1933 - Franklin Delano Roosevelt 1816 - James Madison 1890 - Benjamin Harrison 1913 - Woodrow Wilson 1791 - George Washington


George Washington

Creation of the First Bank of the United States

The First Bank of the United States was Alexander Hamilton’s brainchild and America’s first attempt at a central bank. After the Revolutionary War, the newborn nation had wartime debt to pay off. To make matters worse, the Continental Congress’ money was considered worthless, according to the Minneapolis Federal Reserve. The states owed part of the total debt, and they made their own currencies.

Hamilton, then the Treasury secretary, proposed to President Washington the idea of a central bank that would assume the total wartime debt — including the states’ — and print a national currency. After many debates in the legislative and executive branches, Washington signed the bill to create the First Bank of the United States. The wartime debt was eventually paid off, but in 1811, the congress voted against renewing the bank’s 20-year charter by a margin of one vote.