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BOOK REVIEWS265 While Genovese does exaggerate the hegemony of the planter and while Green does demonstrate the control over credit exercised by urban bankers, it remains true that investments and credits in Louisiana did not stray far from projects of direct benefit to the staple economy. The financial system of Louisiana may have directed its endeavors along a line of optimal development. But optimal development, for an individual banker, is a perception of reality plus desire. It is as much psychological as economic. Green does not eliminate the possibility that a planter-southern world view was operative as an endogenous factor in limiting both the perception and the desire and thus the course of development. John G. Clark University of Kansas The Bank of the State of South Carolina: A General and Political History . By J. Mauldin Lesesne. (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1971. Pp. ix, 211. $6.95.) The Bank of the State of South Carolina was created in 1812. State banks were not a novelty in the Palmetto state by that time (there were already four), and paper money had been in use since 1703. The Bank of the State differed from all others: its capital "comprised all the assets in the treasury of the state," and its profits "became the revenue of the state." Unspent state funds could be added to the capital of the Bank. Because it was created to bolster agricultural rather than commercial interests, Charleston's opposition to the Bank was not surprising. With the "full faith of the state pledged to redeem its note issues and make good its deposits," this tax-free institution enjoyed special advantages over private banks but time and again justified its existence by handling state deposits without charge, by paying interest and principal on the state debt when so directed, by maintaining adequate specie reserves except in 1857, by financing agricultural and railroad-development , and by supporting the unstable notes of other South Carolina banks and regulating their activity. While the Bank apparently served the state and its people well, it also helped out its directors and officers with loans and other privileges. This situation along with the blatant political partisanship of Bank President F. H. Elmore and the opposition of private bankers, apparently brought on a series of bitter attacks upon the institution in the 1840's and early 1850's. When a new bank president took the helm and devoted total attention to the Bank's business affairs, opposition died down and a bill to recharter the institution passed the legislature in 1852. The directors, however, who were political appointees of the legislature, went on throughout the 1850's using the Bank to promote their own private interests. During the Civil War the Bank continued to serve the state, selling 266civil war history state-held stocks and bonds to raise funds for military preparations, making loans to the state, and issuing paper currency to meet the needs of an economy starved for specie. The Bank also loaned $4,500,000 to the Confederate government, some in specie. Only after the war did the Bank falter, unable to provide funds, or borrow money elsewhere, for the pressing needs of the state government. Although the Bank's charter did not expire until 1871, legislative friends secured passage of a new charter in 1866 which was vetoed by Governor James L. Orr. By 1869, however, the Bank was in receivership. Caught up in Reconstruction politics, the Bank was plundered by its own receivers until its assets were finally liquidated. In the absence of the Bank's books, which burned in 1865, the author pieced together his account chiefly from legislative records, scattered manuscripts, pamphlets, and newspapers, mostly in South Carolina. He has told his story well and in an interesting way. Yet the reader may be surprised that the author, who promised "A General and Political History" in his subtitle, presented a topic such as banking with only fleeting references to broader economic matters. Except for Catterall, Dewey, Hammond, and Hepburn, the author has apparently consulted none of the other relevant secondary literature on the economics of the period. President Stephen Elliott's provincial ideas about paper money...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 265-266
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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