Economics thru the Long History of America's First Bank
Capitalism and the American nation have long been bedfellows; after all, they are both the children of eighteenth century Neo-Classical Liberalism. It is worth noting that both the “Declaration of Independence” and Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations” were presented to the public in the same fateful year of 1776.
However, the America of Revolutionary days certainly was neither the financial nor business force that it is today, and understanding how the nation came to be so closely linked to capital is an important understanding. This is why this Unit Plan draws heavily on the Bank of North America collection a the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. A wide range of primary sources have been selected and digitized to represent the hundreds of volumes of bank material held at HSP.
Through the manuscripts, images, and financial data in the Bank of North America collection, high school students of Economics, History, and/or Government can come to terms with the capitalistic development of America.
What were the Founders’ opinions of banking in America?
How were financial institutions created?
What can be said about financial history and the consequences of war, epidemics, and politics?
Lessons on a variety of U.S. History, Government, and Economics topics have been developed in order to encourage students to think critically, engage primary source materials, and develop their own opinions on personal finance, commerce, and especially banking in America.
These lessons were created with a special focus on the Bank of North America collection, consisting of more than 650 volumes of material. Many sources were selected and then digitized in order to be used in these lesson plans. They are listed below, with the understanding that teachers might find different uses than that which was originally intended.
Primary Sources relating to the Founding of the Bank of North America
How does continuity and change within the United States history influence your community today?
How has social disagreement and collaboration been beneficial to American society?
What does it mean to be a United States citizen, and what is your role in the history of the world?
What role do multiple causations play in describing a historic event?
What role does analysis have in historical construction?
Why is time and space important to the study of history?
Historical literacy prepares one for participation as active, critical citizens in a democratic society.
Historical comprehension involves evidence-based discussion and explanation, an analysis of sources including multiple points of view, and an ability to read critically to recognize fact from conjecture and evidence from assertion.
Historical causation involves motives, reasons and consequences that result in events and actions. Some consequences may be impacted by forces of the irrational or the accidental.
Historical skills - organizing information chronologically, explaining historical issues, locating sources and investigate materials, synthesizing and evaluating evidence, and developing arguments and interpretations based on evidence – are used by an analytical thinker to create a historical construction.
Textual evidence, material artifacts, the built environment, and historic sites are central to understanding United States history.
Long-term continuities and discontinuities in the structures of United States society provide vital contributions to contemporary issues. Belief systems and religion, commerce and industry, innovations, settlement patterns, social organization, transportation and trade, and equality are examples continuity and change.
Conflict and cooperation among social groups, organizations, and nation-states are critical to comprehending society in the United States. Domestic instability, ethnic and racial relations, labor relation, immigration, and wars and revolutions are examples of social disagreement and collaboration.
Analyze the interaction of cultural, economic, geographic, political and social relations for a specific time and place.
Articulate the context of a historical event or action.
Evaluate cause-and-result relationships bearing in mind multiple causations.
Contrast multiple perspectives of individuals and groups in interpreting other times, cultures and places.
Analyze a primary source for accuracy and bias and connect it to a time a place in United States history.
Apply the theme of continuity and change in United States history and relate the benefits and drawbacks of your example.
Summarize how conflict and compromise in United States history impacts contemporary society.
Analyze how a historically important issue in the United States was resolved and evaluate what techniques and decisions may be applied today.
"The Bank of North America and the transformation of political ideology in early national Pennsylvania." Hans Louis Eicholz, University of California, Los Angeles, Ph.D. 1992 dissertation.
"The Sources and Early Development of the Hostility to Banks in Early American Thought." George David Rappaport, New York University Ph.D. 1970 dissertation
End of Unit Assessment
Since this “unit” engages in multiple disciplines (especially history, government/civics, and economics), it would perhaps be most beneficial to fit a specific lesson into a teacher's pre-existing unit instead of judging a student’s overall performance based off of these 10 lessons altogether. Therefore, reflection questions and other forms of formal and/or informal assessment have been included in each specific lesson.
Leo J. Vaccaro, the Wells Fargo Teacher Fellow, completed these lessons in the Summer of 2015. Vaccaro is a high school teacher, currently working at St. Joseph's Preparatory School in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter: @MrVaccaro1