United States Banking began in 1781 with an act of United States Congress that established the Bank of North America in Philadelphia. During the American Revolutionary War, the Bank of North America was given a monopoly on currency; prior to this time, private banks printed their own bank notes, backed by deposits of gold and/or silver.
Robert Morris, the first Superintendent of Finance appointed under the Articles of Confederation, proposed the Bank of North America as a commercial bank that would act as fiscal agent for the government. The monopoly was seen as necessary because previous attempts to finance the Revolutionary War with paper currency had failed; after the war, a number of banks were chartered by the states under the Articles of Confederation, including the Bank of New York and the Bank of Massachusetts, both of which were chartered in 1784.
The Bank of North America was succeeded by the First Bank of the United States, which the United States Congress chartered in 1791 under Article One, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, after the Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation as the foundation of American government. However, Congress failed to renew the charter for the Bank of the United States, which expired in 1811. Similarly, the Second Bank of the United States was chartered in 1816 and shuttered in 1836.