The Life and Death of the Hydra-Headed Monster: Antebellum Bank Regulation and American State Development, 1781-1836
Eric Lomazoff’s dissertation engaged the long, discontinuous, and tortured life of the Bank of the United States (1791-1811 and 1816-1836), the lynchpin of Federalist political economy which grew into a regulatory role vis-a-vis state-chartered commercial banks. Lomazoff used this neglected policy instrument of the Early Republic to address both micro- and macro-level themes within the broad literature on institutional development. A focus on multiple short-run episodes in the life of the Bank - its creation, conversion, postwar resurrection, and demise - permits the testing of standing disciplinary hypotheses concerning institutional choice, change, reproduction, and decline. The Bank’s protracted and uneven career begs for a chronicle of antebellum financial state development and the forces which explain its sharp vicissitudes over time. Lomazoff argued that we may learn just as much about the early state of “court and parties” from the institutions which died away as from those which persistently organized antebellum American politics.