Philadelphia - Old City: Second Bank Portrait Gallery - Benjamin Franklin
This portrait of Benjamin Franklin (Catalog Number INDE14050) was executed by David Rent Etter in 1835. Etter, a Philadelphia sign painter, based his portait on Charles Willson Peale's 1772 copy (now at the American Philosophical Society) of David Martin's 1767 replica portrait (originally owned by Franklin and now at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts) and his life portrait (now at the White House). Etter's portrait was given by the Southwark District to Independence Hall to commemorate the 1854 consolidation of Philadelphia and its neighbors into one municipality.
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author and printer, satirist, political theorist, politician, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman and diplomat. A major figure in the Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity, he invented the lightning rod, bifocals, the Franklin stove, carriage odometer, and glass armonica. He formed both the first public lending library in America and first fire department in Pennsylvania. He was an early proponent of colonial unity and as a diplomat during the American Revolution, he secured the French alliance that helped to make independence possible.
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)