Business and Commerce


What purpose did the Freedman’s Bank serve?

On March 3, 1865, the Freedman’s Savings Trust and Company was incorporated by a congressional act. The bank became popularly known as the Freedman’s Bank. It was, however, not a federal bank but a private white-owned and managed financial entity that many believed was a government institution. Few blacks were hired in the branch banks that were established in thirty-five cities across the South, and in St. Louis, Philadelphia, New York, and Washington, D.C. When the bank began to fail, Frederick Douglass was named president in January 1875, only six months before it closed. The bank was never a financial success; it also provided little benefit to blacks, so its title was actually a misnomer.


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