Philadelphia: December 29 1846.
2 1/2 pp. bifold, pen and ink on paper, with seals. 7.75 x 12.75 inches. AGENTS OF THE COTTON SCHEME. Old folds, else VF. Item #308875
The last vestige of the firm that hastened the downfall of banking titan Nicholas Biddle.
Though just one of the contributing factors to the demise of U.S. Bank of Pennsylvania, Nicholas Biddle’s speculation in cotton and his manipulation of the market is seen as one of the banks most nefarious actions. Since the bank was legally prevented from openly purchasing cotton, Biddle worked through a series of intermediaries to buy cotton on his own account using credit provided by the bank. The shipments of cotton from the US were delivered to Humphreys and Biddle, a firm established in Liverpool by May Humphreys and Biddle’s son, Edward. The cotton shipments were paid by drafts on the Philadelphia firm, Bevans & Humphreys, using funds advanced by the bank. The funds advanced by the bank and the profits were remitted to the bank’s Liverpool agent, Samuel Jaudon. Though successful at first, the scheme ultimately collapsed and cost the bank almost $1,000,000, most of which Biddle and other bank officers were held liable for. Nicholas Biddle and Samuel Jaudon were later indicted for fraud in connection with the cotton scheme but were acquitted of the charges.
Nicolas Biddle (1786-1844) is the most prominent member of the influential Biddle family of Philadelphia. Graduating at the top of his class from Princeton, at the age of 15, he went on to serve as secretary to the U.S. minister to France; secretary to James Monroe, who was then minister to Great Britain; and was elected to the Pennsylvania State Legislature. He is probably best-remembered, however, as President of the Second Bank of the United States and President Andrew Jackson’s greatest antagonist. Jackson’s determination to destroy the Bank of the United States led to a bitter political blood-letting between Jackson, Biddle, and their supporters known to history as the "Bank War." Jackson ultimately prevailed in his efforts and the U.S. Bank closed it's doors in 1836. Biddle reorganized the remnants of the institution as the U.S. Bank of Pennsylvania, a commercial bank run under a state charter, but Biddle had difficulty replicating his success in the private sector. After the Bank of Pennsylvania’s collapse during the Depression of 1839-1843, Biddle was left with debts and legal trouble that, though he succeeded in paying off, consumed his personal fortune. He retired to Andalusia, his estate north of Philadelphia, where he died at the age of 58.
Other signatures include:
Maj. May Humphreys (1792-1866) was a veteran of the war of 1812 and a principal of the War of 1812. He was appointed a director of the US Bank of Pennsylvania by Nicholas Biddle, and would later establish Humphrey’s and Biddle, in Liverpoool, England, with Nicholas Biddle’s son, Edward, to manage the bank’s illicit cotton operation.
Louis Huth (22 March 1821 – 12 February 1905), was a British company director, merchant banker, and art collector. He was a partner in Frederick Huth & Co, the merchant bank established by his father.
Henry V. Ward (1809-1873) was a successful American merchant, who was employed for a short time at Frederick Huth & Co, in London.
John Cadwalader (1805-1879) was an American lawyer, jurist, and politician from Philadelphia.
His mother was Mary Biddle (1781–1850) and his maternal grandfather, Clement Biddle, served under George Washington during the Revolutionary War.
Peter Mcall (1809 -1880) was an an American lawyer and professor of law at Princeton.
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