- Initially chartered in 1791 to combat the debt the United States had incurred from the war with Great Britain, the First Bank of the United States created uniform currency for the 13 original states. This brainchild of then-Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton was erected in the neo-classical style to echo the democracy of Ancient Greece. However, Congress abandoned the use of a national bank in 1811; legislators of the time felt it made the federal government too centralized by not giving enough power to the states. The space is now a portrait gallery featuring the Signers of the Declaration of Independence. There are many fine portraits here, particularly by Charles Wilson Peale. Other exhibits chronicle early currency and the bank's importance in American history are on display. The bank is also one of the first historic sites to use the bald eagle as a national symbol.
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