The 1913 Federal Reserve Act: Epitomizing Moment of the Modern Era
4 January 2005
I. Introduction: Money and Banking in General, Usury
A. Thesis. What were the historical circumstances of the great Federal Reserve Act of 1913? Our inquiry will begin with the basic understanding of fractional-reserve money and banking, what it really is and how it is actually practiced. For the Federal Reserve act of 1913 was the momentous institutionalizing of the fractional-reserve system; there are great, ominous, and actually frightening consequences, and we are living with them in this very day. In more specific terms, the theses presented are:
1) that the fractional-reserve system is fraud by its very essential nature,
2) that such fraud is only supportable by means of conspiracy, dictatorship, and ever greater cultural perversion,
3) that such a system must end in perdition and destruction.
The second thesis is the particular subject of this paper, exposited in conclusive detail.
The metaphysics. The economic historian should begin an inquiry upon a banking system like the Federal Reserve with a sound understanding of money, what it is and how it works. Money and banking are not necessarily eary to understand and explain, but a basic understanding should not be too difficult for the citizen. However, it is necessary that the honest citizen begin by knowing and remembering fundamental concepts of "common sense," that A is A, and one cannot eat one's cake and yet have it too. Money is actually a practical, perceptible, down-to-earth sort of thing, but the concept is quite capable of becoming abstract; when it does, then it can get confusing -- that is why we must strive mightily to maintain simplicity at least at the beginning for the ensuing clarity of our exposition.
B. Money: its necessary commodity nature and foundation. Note that all trade and commerce retains its basic barter nature -- that's why it is still called, quite accurately, "trade." Bartering is trade (and vice-versa). Money, from the Latin "moneta," a coin which is "minted" then, merely adds some efficiency to the same, basic, barter system of trade, and it can only render a finite efficiency; money doesn't at all change the basic barter nature of trade. (Popp, 5.) Thus money arose from the use of a "medium of exchange," a commodity which was most accepted and acceptable in lieu of some other, more desired but not then at the moment available commodity, in the belief that the accepted "medium of exchange" commodity (hence the 'money' commodity) could be most easily and readily exchanged for that originally more desired commodity when the occasion arose and the originally desired commodity became available. Thus money, the original commodity sort, its amount (or quantity), was
necessarily finite with a basic, intrinsic value, though as it became more and more widely acceptable as a medium of exchange, it naturally gained in its value, what it could exchange for. Practicality and trial and error led through time to gold and silver as most preferred and universal forms of money. (Von Mises, 42-45.)
Banking. Hence money in its basic form is necessarily a (1) commodity, finite in amount and with intrinsic value. Now when a productive person, for example, accumulates large amounts of such money and moves to secure it in a well-guarded warehouse (a "bank"), for example, he may then acquire a receipt for such money which receipt he can then spend and exchange as if it is the real thing, the original commodity money. Thus one sees the origin of banking, a warehousing of money, and one sees the nature of another kind of money, a money substitute, (2) "receipt money." There are two other basic kinds of money, for a total of four, the other two varieties consisting of "fiat" and "fractional reserve." (Griffin, p 138.)
Note that if the banker "invests" the deposited funds in some business venture, naturally it must be done with the understanding that the depositor cannot himself expect to withdraw his money from the bank while the funds are at the same time tied up in the investment. The depositor, under such circumstances, has agreed that he can't withdraw his money for a stipulated time. But in exchange for the use of his deposited money now invested by the banker, he naturally receives a payment ("interest") from the banker. Note that for the simple service of warehousing the money with the understanding that the depositor might withdraw his money at any time, the banker can't (honestly) invest the deposited funds, hence there's no reason for the banker to pay the depositor. On the contrary, it is the warehouser, the banker, who is providing the security of the storage in warehouse, and he would naturally charge the depositor for the service rendered.
Fraud and the human nature. But note that human beings continually look for shortcuts and "easy ways," and note how quick they are to cheat and rob their fellows if the opportunity allows. Such is the human condition -- forever seeking an "easier way," all too willing to fool oneself or one's neighbor or fellow. And thus it is that the philosophers and wise men of all ages and cultures observe the nearly perpetual state of strife in which humans all so easily find themselves with their fellows; such, again, is the human condition. Peace and harmony so seldom exist for human relations; life is war and struggle as Darwin and Spencer pointed out, also Homer, Heraclitus, Plato, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Nietzche, and all the greatest and wisest of our Western thinkers. True peace is so ephemeral, so fleeting and hence so sweet and precious; it's a great pity then that people actually and so often get bored with it so easily and quickly.
(3) Fiat money is then the pretext for fraud and overt violence; it is mere (paper) substitute for a gun pointed at one's head with the demand that one turn over one's goods and valuables; it is outright and overt robbery upon the pretext and pretense of being genuine receipt money.
(4) Lastly, there is fractional reserve money, a fraud, a profound sort of mediation between actual, honest receipt money and its antithesis, the overt violence of fiat money. Thus whereas fiat money represents overt, gross violence, fractional reserve money is the fraudulent, more artistic -- more pretentious -- counterpart.
Fractional reserve money arises from the banker giving out proliferated receipts for the static commodity money he may actually have on hand. If for example the banker gives out three receipts for a given amount of the commodity money on hand in his warehouse and the three receipts are thereupon presented simultaneously for redemption, the banker is then only able to satisfy or fulfill a third of the required payment for each receipt. Thus one sees the "fractional" nature of the proliferated receipts fraudulently issued, a mediation or mitigation for a complete, outright ripoff in the form of the fiat variety.
A warehouseman, taking goods deposited with him and devoting them to his own profit, either by use or by loan to another, is guilty of a tort, a conversion of goods for which he is liable in civil, if not in criminal law. By a casuistry which is now elevated into an economic principle, but which has no defenders outside the realm of banking, a warehouseman who deals in money is subject to a diviner law: the banker is free to use for his private interest and profit the money left in trust. (Groseclose, P. 173.)
C. Usury. Fractional reserve money and banking, also known as central banking, is traditionally known as usury; it is the ultimate fraud of civilizations, and goes back, according to Astle, to Babylonian times, even before written history, the clay tablet "receipts" impressed with a stamp or mark of the banker. Thus usury has nothing, necessarily, to do with the charging of interest, excessive or otherwise. One can charge fifty percent, and as long as it is upon honest, commodity money it still isn't usury. But even if one charges a mere one percent, if it is upon fractional reserve money, that, by definition, is usury. (Thoren, P. 99.) The Bible itself warns repeatedly against the particular fraud of usury, and indeed, the Book of Revelation is the ultimate warning of the usury enforcer-beast, a direct, thinly veiled allegory for the modern U.N., collection agency for the World Bank, the BIS, and International Monetary Fund (IMF).
To those who say that fractional reserve money and banking are necessary for civilization, history belies them, for successful banking is and has been proven to be feasible on honest, strict commodity-money basis. (Griffin, pp. 171-4.) And there is no evidence that fractional reserve money creates prosperity or is necessary thereto. In fact, the very opposite is true; fractional-reserve schemes always fail, and fail disastrously and ingloriously. And note that "devaluations" of the currencies are simply bankruptcies by degrees; the monstrosity is simply compounded so as to fail later with even greater consequences. (Griffin, p. 170.) Western history, including that since the middle ages, has been a record of nearly constant warfare between the various fractional-reserve systems. World War I-II was the British-American imperial victory over the German and Russian national systems (which were actually mini-empires in themselves); now, post-WWII, there is one international, "globalist" system in consolidation stage, incarnated in the form of the U.N., enforcement and collection agency for the World Bank and IMF. NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), NAFTA, GATT, WTO are all mere component parts to the larger U.N. system -- built upon the fractional-reserve money and banking principle, and accompanied, be it also noted, by overt, explicit socialist/communist political mechanism. Fraud can only be supported by dictatorship.
What now is the predictable course of such usury, fractional-reserve system? Such course is characteristically cyclical: (1) the fractional-reserve loans and receipts are issued which causes an inevitable price inflation in some form or other. (2) If the policy is continued too long a "runaway" inflation occurs. (3) Thus to preclude the "runaway," a periodic deflation must be brought about which has the same general effect upon the economy as a dope junky going "cold turkey." Note that an inevitable deflation must come about in consequence to such fractional-reserve issuances in any case, no matter what; it's only a matter of time. In a fractional-reserve system however, the deflation will be managed and manipulated for political purposes -- that is the intent -- and indeed such feature was pointed out at the time of the U.S. Federal Reserve Act in 1913. (Griffin, p. 442-3.) (4) Finally, one must note that after the deflation causes a recession or depression with all the bankruptcies
(aside from unemployment), the money managers at the top who were in control of things all along -- or their cronies who are "connected" with the policies -- will then be enabled to pick up the forfeited assets for literally pennies on the dollar. Such is the "rationale" for a fractional-reserve system; there is an indubitable purpose to it as certain people will inevitably and invariably profit -- it is fraud, and people will fall victim whenever they suffer the hubris of thinking something can be gotten for nothing. Such hubris (smugness) always happens sooner or later as result of human success, prosperity, and happiness; it is inevitable, for such is the human condition.
II. Brief History of Banking prior to the United States
It is especially instructive then to observe history to see that the above basic and general exposition upon our subject of money and banking and specifically the fractional-reserve system is borne out. All civilizations in their (Spenglerian-type) cyclic rises and declines resort to fraud and gross coercion at one time or another, and to varying degrees, and always at the end during the decline. Thus fractional-reserve money and banking (usury) must be seen as the widest, most sublime, most all-pervading, yet practical, cultural fraud; it happens in all cultures, always with the same, predictable results: it is a means of divesting credulous people of their wealth, the ultimate "insider scam."
Groseclose describes the course of Western monetary and banking history as an account of rulers and governments constantly, even desperately seeking ways of defrauding their citizens by means of the monetary and credit systems. For as the rulers are constantly at war (or nearly so), they need means of paying for their excursions. Before the era of paper money, the rulers sought ways of debasing the coins; they were also clipped, shaved, and drilled with small holes into the sides. The coins of the Roman emperor Augustus retained their metal integrity for about seventy five to eighty years, and this seems to be the longest period for such monetary integrity. (Groseclose, P. 38.)
Paper money as legal tender first made its historical appearance in China in the tenth century; it quickly became fractional reserve, its purpose being fraud, and it ended ingloriously with nothing less than the fall of the Northern Sung dynasty. In Europe, especially the West, paper money was unknown until the sophistication of the post-medieval period when wealth began to take the form of paper securities and receipts for shares in joint-stock companies, especially after 1600.
The Byzantines were unusually scrupulous over hundreds of years, until near the end, in maintaining the integrity of their monetary unit, the Bezant. (Groseclose, P. 53.) It was the Italians who took over from the Byzantines as leaders of European and Mediterranean commerce and banking; from the mid-thirteenth to well into the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Italians were the bankers of Europe. (P. 89.) The European feudal age had succeeded in producing a magnificent agricultural foundation and source; the surplus now traded to the east led inexorably to the growth of towns and cities. The Italians standardized what they'd learned from the Byzantines and Muslims and then effectively colonized Europe with their business methods. The Italians introduced double-entry bookkeeping, developed new forms of corporate bodies, bills of exchange, insurance, and general banking methods which then became commonly practiced throughout Europe. (91-2.)
The development of European commerce and trade continued to the founding of joint-stock companies. The British East India Company was founded in 1599; the Dutch counterpart was founded in 1602. These traders demonstrated the ability and real potential of bringing home amazing profits from the far east; hence owning stock in the company, even as it was speculative upon "ships coming in" could realistically command considerable prices in gold or silver. And the stock certificates themselves thus became quite negotiable as virtual receipt money; thus one observes the dawning of the era of paper money, credit, and money substitutes. These instruments had already been known and existed, but now became much more widespread. The only remaining jump to present-era practices was to make paper money legal tender acceptable by the citizens, adopted and enforceable by the government. Modern stock exchanges make their appearances in 1698 (the Royal Exchange) in England, the Paris Bourse in 1724. (P. 112.)
After the era of Italian banking dominance, European traders with easy access to the great oceans began to develop their own imperial commerce -- the Italian middlemen were eclipsed by the late sixteenth through early seventeenth centuries -- especially by the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, French and English, even, briefly, the Swedes. Gradually, through the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the English developed the strongest naval power, and the American colonies were an outgrowth of the English imperial parent.
Around 1695 the Bank of England was created by a cabal, some of them members of Parliament, led by adventurer William Paterson; it was a fractional reserve scheme, but the notes were not legal tender. (P. 172.) The great significance of this event is that now the government is directly enlisted upon the scheme which was primarily occasioned by King William's need to fund his wars on the continent. Thus when such a government-sponsored central bank cannot meet its payment obligations, the government allows it to "suspend payments" at the originally agreed upon rate and thereby avoid bankruptcy. Note that such "government sponsorship" allows for the profound privilege of a legally sanctioned prerogative of declining to honor contractual obligation, a fatal perversion (literally the effectively total destruction of reason and all culture, actually) which the powers always promise to not "excessively" abuse. Perhaps the most important historical point is that the people, for the most
part, have only dimly if ever caught on to the "central banking," fractional-reserve scam, and in point of fact, the idea actually spread to other countries, such as France and Prussia. Human beings seem to have concluded that they can live with a little fraud, and the observation must be conceded that civilization and its advances continued and did not immediately collapse. But there's still the Biblical Book of Revelation with its message (quite persuasive in its way) of a vast world-wide, monolithic usury scheme controlling and affecting everything on an unprecedented scale. And the question then is whether humanity will be able to survive when that system overturns and goes bust.
III. Banking in the U.S. to the Federal Reserve Act of 1913
The United States began its existence formally after the 1787 Constitutional convention, but before that it had to fight a war of independence from the greatest imperial power of the time, and the Continental Congress, operating under the Articles of Confederation, issued paper money which was essentially of fiat nature. After the war, the states themselves continued the issue of such fiat money, and the resulting anarchy was one of the prime reasons for the most purposeful convening of the Constitutional convention. In and during that convention it was emphatically determined, for one of its foremost and primary imperatives, to eliminate entirely such fiat, paper money. (Griffin, 310-16.)
The dangers of fiat and fractional-reserve money were well known to such as Jefferson and Hamilton, top officials of the first national U.S. government, and the clash of these two men's philosophies was specifically occasioned with greatest poignancy upon Hamilton's proposal of a central bank, founded upon the fractional reserve system, the first for the new government (but the second for the states which, under the Confederation, had suffered Robert Morris's Bank of North America). Hamilton's creation of 1791, chartered for twenty years, was modeled after the Bank of England, and the notes were of limited legal tender (for public but not private debts). (Griffin, P. 330.) But in 1811, the bank's charter renewal was defeated in congress by one vote, this on the strength of a strange coalition of "sound-money" Jeffersonians and, quite ironically, the "wildcatters," a faction of "free bankers" who wanted to issue fractional-reserve notes with no regulation whatsoever (which regulation had been duly imposed by Hamilton's central bank). (P. 336.)
But again the forces of fraud and self-deception reorganized and resurged in Congress and in 1816 was enacted yet another national central bank. One must note, again, that among the most impassioned opponents of such a central bank are not only the Jeffersonian (now to be led by the Jacksonians) advocates of strictly sound commodity-based money, but also, on the other end of the scale, the outright "wildcatters," even more nihilistic, who often wanted absolutely "free banking" with no reserve requirements whatsoever. It was exactly such a strange coalition of opposites which brought the McCulloch v. Maryland Supreme Court case in 1819, decided by John Marshall (by means of very questionable reasoning) in favor of the national government and its central bank. But then in 1832, Andrew Jackson, in a mighty effort, saw to the definitive ending -- until the Civil War, anyway -- of such central bank designs and practices by 1836. (P. 348.)
The next episode in American banking would be in connection with the great Civil War which, like every war, had to be financed one way or another. In 1863 Congress passed the National Banking Act which commissioned not one, but numerous banks which would function essentially as central banks, called "national banks." These national banks issued notes with limited legal tender, again, not for private debt. (P. 386.) Earlier, in 1862, Congress had authorized the "greenback" issue of fiat money, but these were only for private debts. (P. 384.)
It's important to note that the new banking system was certainly not a free market, quite the contrary. "They [meaning the national banks] were in fact subsidized by the government and had many monopolistic privileges." (P. 432.) Perhaps most of all, the post-Civil War banking system was a mere "halfway house" to a true central banking system as it lacked provision for "lender of last resort." (P. 432.) Thus the banks, even with all their government subsidies and privileges, could still go bankrupt. Further, regarding the banking system as a whole, the large Wall Street banks "saw financial control of the nation slipping away." (Rothbard, 233.) For example, whereas in 1896 nonnational banks held 54% of resources, by 1913 they held 57%.
The big bankers, inspired by statist developments in Bismarck's Germany, decided to lead and finance a national movement, amping up the volume of propaganda in favor greater statist cartelization and centralization, under the rubric of "progressivism." (P. 233.) Thus the urge and agitation for a central bank became irresistable; the stage had been set long ago for the inevitable neo-mercantilist resurgence. The era of the more truly free market, so tenuously founded upon individual freedom, was, intellectually and culturally, essentially dead and gone. Adam Smith, Locke, and Montesquieu had now been replaced by Hume and Bentham, Kant, Hegel, and Marx, with the latter two's absolute state ideal in contempt of the individual. The nineteenth century was thus the era of neo-mercantilism in the form of a steadily advancing socialism and statism. "In 1900, President McKinley's Secretary of the Treasury, Lyman J. Gage, suggested the creation of a central bank." (P. 234.) In 1908 Congress passed the Aldrich-Vreeland Act which authorized the issuance of a "script" to serve as emergency money in case of bank runs, as happened in the 1907 panic, deliberately induced by the big bankers. (Perloff, P. 21.) Yet another provision of the act was in creating a Commission which would recommend the Federal Reserve. (Griffin, P. 436.)
Now the fix was in; the chairman of the Aldrich-Vreeland Act's commission was none other than Senator Aldrich, a Rockefeller kinsman (his son-in-law was John D. Rockefeller II). Indeed, the commission never really met, but Aldrich went sedulously to work; the result was to be the fateful Federal Reserve system. In 1910 Aldrich gathered together at Jekyll Island, a resort owned by J.P. Morgan, the lords of high finance: they were, A.P. Andrew, Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury; Frank Vanderlip, of National City Bank of New York, representing Rockefeller and Kuhn, Loeb, and Co.; Henry Davison, senior partner of J.P. Morgan; Charles Norton, president of J.P. Morgan's First National Bank of New York; Benjamin Strong, future Fed Chairman, another Morgan associate; and last but not least, none other than Paul Warburg, the first Fed Chairman, representative of Rothschild of France and England, brother of Max Warburg, head of the Warburg consortium of Germany and the Netherlands (and chief of the German Kaiser's secret service who would mastermind the infiltration of the Bolsheviks to Russia). These were the leaders of American finance, divided, generally, between Rockefeller and Morgan in the U.S. (P. 5.)
These nefarious plutocrats then, according to Griffin, worked to (1) stop the growing influence of the smaller banks and insure their own control over the nation's finances; (2) make the money supply more "elastic," and to recapture the industrial loan market; (3) pool the reserves of the banks to protect themselves from "currency drains" (or runs); (4) shift losses from the bank's owners to the taxpayers; (5) convince Congress the scheme would be a measure to protect the public. (P. 437-8.)
The first two objectives were accomplished by means of converting technical phraseology into the necessary legislative language. The next two objectives could be fairly easily done with the guidance of an expert with European experience, like Warburg. The fifth was what the conspirators in fraud discussed in greatest earnest; they laid down the following plan:
1) Don't call it (the central bank) a cartel or a central bank.
2) Make the central bank look like a government agency.
3) Establish regional branches to make it seem it isn't dominated by Wall Street.
4) Begin with a structure with some genuinely, fairly sound features, but with provisions that could easily be altered in the process or a little later.
5) Create a "popular demand" for "reform."
6) Use academic sources making such "reform" seem to have academic approval.
7) Then speak against it to make it seem Wall Street doesn't really want such pretended "reform." (P. 438.)
Thus a bill containing the necessary measures was duly presented by Aldrich later in 1910, and a Congressional committee was formed to investigate the money trust, the Pujo committee. The plutocrats of course made sure that the Pujo committee was practically entirely staffed with sympathetic cohorts. As it happened, the Aldrich-proposed legislation dragged along but never came to a vote in 1910; further, the Republicans lost control of the Senate and Presidency in 1912. The necessary legislation for a central bank would now have to be accomplished under Democrat auspices. (P. 441-50.) The Republican president, Taft, refused to support the plan because he saw the bankers would have complete control of their own pretended oversight and "regulation." Taft wanted more government control. Hence Taft would have to be defeated, so Theodore Roosevelt was persuaded to run as "Bull Moose" in order to split the vote and elect Wilson. Wilson ran against the Aldrich bill, and indeed, after he won the election and the measure was being debated, a new bill was drafted from the Democratic side, this one now containing all the essential provisions the central banker plutocrats really wanted, the Glass-Owen bill. Aldrich, now out of office since 1912, pretended to oppose the Glass-Owen bill. (451-68.) The clincher came when the Democratic leader, William Jennings Bryan, made well-publicized but inessential demands which were granted as compromises, and the Congress passed the act in 1913.
Thus the stage was set for the great deficit spending to come in the immediate future, building a tremendous debt by which the bankers would control the nation and then the world through further mechanisms like the League of Nations and the U.N. (Perloff, P. 29.) And naturally, an income tax would then be necessary for the paying for such increased debt, which tax was duly passed the very same year, 1913. (P. 25.)
The great usury-fraud in perspective: CONSPIRACY. Aside from the intrinsic nefariousness of it, one further now sees the necessarily conspiratorial nature of the fractional-reserve system; it is fundamentally and essentially by nature fraud, and hence couldn't possibly ever exist without conspiracy and collusion -- and only conspiracy could possibly explain the existence of such a profound fraud, especially upon such scale as today (or even that of 1913). And the irony is that the conspirators -- who are the most powerful of people, don't forget -- actually admit its existence, though in a predictably discrete manner; the conspiracy is there for anyone to see who cares merely to take the trouble to look and see for himself. (See Carroll Quigley's Tragedy and Hope, over a thousand pages long; Quigley, a defender and supporter of the conspiracy -- which he calls a "network" -- gives more than sufficient details for any doubter.)
Indeed, the exposition of the usury-conspiracy has been done by numerous people, but perhaps the most concise work is by James Perloff who, for example, details the subsidization of the original Bolsheviks by the same essential conspiracy of mercantilist-plutocrat-usurers who brought about the U.S. Federal Reserve, who later formed the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and still later, the Trilateral Commission (TC) -- which in turn were descendent organizations of the great British imperialist Cecil Rhodes' Round Table (confirmed in detail by Quigley). Thus it is shown that the communists are mere enforcers of the usurers almost precisely as indicated by Goebels and the Nazis -- the only proviso being that the usurers were not only or even primarily Jews (though to be sure, Jews certainly played significant parts). Further, Antony C. Sutton conclusively demonstrates that the Nazis themselves were heavily and deliberately funded by these exact same usurers -- even Judaic bankers, like
Warburg. (Sutton, P. 133.) That some people actively seek to profit from war by financing and supporting both sides has been shown in history over and again.
Conclusion: How now is one to conclude such an historical paper wherein is asserted such an enormous, nearly incredible conspiracy-fraud as fractional-reserve money and banking? One could and should cite Oswald Spengler who presented his great master-theory of history in his Decline of the West, wherein he essentially plots the course of history in cyclic terms, each high culture passing through the stages of spring, summer, and fall, the West now in such an autumnal "decline."
Hubris. Hence the present author's specific Spenglerian-inspired proposed explanation then is that the people of this Western civilization, now become so decadent, suffer hubris, a profound cultural smugness, by which they indulge in behavior in contempt of reality. Thus do economists, among others, for example, sneeringly deny any conspiracy as by means of the fractional-reserve money and banking system when the simplest, most blatant evidence fairly spits in their faces -- even when dozens of books (by now) spell out in all requisite detail, and more, exactly what is going on and how it's taking place. Yet one must admit nonetheless that it is and would be incredible that people would not heed the signs -- but then again, T.V., for example, has shown itself as such a sure-fire instrument of deception, diversion, disinformation, and distraction. The ancient Greeks pointed out hubris as a kind of madness, and indeed such insolent, contemptuous hubris has been well provided for by the one thing which always precedes the decline and fall: the most magnificent success, glory, accomplishment, prosperity, and happiness. Thus the people are brought to think they are like Gods who can create reality, and the hubristic disaster is sure to follow -- as it always has.
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