Philadelphia - Old City: Second Bank Portrait Gallery - James Madison

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    The portrait of James Madison (Catalog Number INDE14091) was executed by Catherine A. Drinker (1844-1922) in 1875. Drinker copied Gilbert Stuart's 1804 portrait of Madison (now owned by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation) for a commission by the City of Philadelphia for its historical museum in Independence Hall.

    James Madison (1751-1836) was the fourth President of the United States (1809-1817) and one of the Founding Fathers. Considered to be the "Father of the Constitution", he was the principal author of the document, and in 1788 wrote over a third of the Federalist Papers. As a leader in the first Congresses, he drafted many basic laws and was responsible for the first ten amendments to the Constitution, and thus is also known as the "Father of the Bill of Rights". As a political theorist, Madison's most distinctive belief was that the new republic needed checks and balances to limit the powers of special interests, which Madison called factions. As leader in the House of Representatives, he and Thomas Jefferson broke with Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton in 1791 to organized what they called the Republican Party (later called the Democratic-Republican Party), in opposition to the policies of the Federalists, in partcilar the national bank and the Jay Treaty. As Jefferson's Secretary of State (1801-1809), Madison supervised the Louisiana Purchase, doubling the nation's size, and sponsored the ill-fated Embargo Act of 1807. As president, he led the nation into the War of 1812 against Great Britain. By 1815, he supported the creation of the second National Bank, a strong military, and a high tariff to protect the new factories opened during the war.

    The Second Bank of the United States, at 420 Chestnut Street, was chartered five years after the expiration of the First Bank of the United States in 1816 to keep inflation in check following the War of 1812. The Bank served as the depository for Federal funds until 1833, when it became the center of bitter controversy between bank president Nicholas Biddle and President Andrew Jackson. The Bank, always a privately owned institution, lost its Federal charter in 1836, and ceased operations in 1841. The Greek Revival building, built between 1819 and 1824 and modeled by architect William Strickland after the Parthenon, continued for a short time to house a banking institution under a Pennsylvania charter. From 1845 to 1935 the building served as the Philadelphia Customs House. Today it is open, free to the public, and features the "People of Independence" exhibit--a portrait gallery with 185 paintings of Colonial and Federal leaders, military officers, explorers and scientists, including many by Charles Willson Peale.

    Independence National Historical Park preserves several sites associated with the American Revolution. Administered by the National Park Service, the 45-acre park was authorized in 1948, and established on July 4, 1956. The Second Bank of the United States was added to the Park's properties in 2006.

    Second Bank of the United States National Register #87001293 (1987)
    Independence National Park Historic District National Register #66000675 (1966)

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