Providence Today: Second National Bank

Speaker 1:
This is Providence today, and we’re in the city of Philadelphia, the birthplace of the United States. There’s so many great stories that are here to tell about how, our founding fathers gave us the nation we enjoy every day, as well as the great document, that shape how we govern ourselves and how we express our values as a nation and a people. The place that we’re standing on is the second national bank. And this bank now is a closed bank, but it is a beautiful classical building that has some of the most spectacular paintings you can find in here. A beautiful statue of George Washington, a remarkable image of Benjamin Franklin. We have Lafayette, we have John Witherspoon, Thomas Payne, other leaders that help shape America, including Bishop White and Martha Washington. So as we think about what’s on the inside, I want you to think about what’s on the outside.

Speaker 1:
As they created a national bank, they obviously were creating a whole new institution with a new nation. We don’t have national banks today. Although we do have the federal reserve that may or may not be a direct descendant, and that’s a discussion for another day. But what we do have is we look at the outside, are these magnificent columns that up as you look at them and you see the top in shape, you can recognize these as columns that might come right out of ancient Athens in Greece. This is if you will, part of the Greco Roman architectural revival that occurred in the early years of the American experience, some of you may remember that New York to this day is called empire state. There was a sense in which there was going to be a new empire, a new rule of Liberty that would be rolled out in history because of the American experiment in constitutional Republican government.

Speaker 1:
And with that idea of aspiring to create a whole new government that might shape civilization, they use the imagery of the classic architecture as part of their story. When you go to the first national bank and you look at its columns, you’ll see at the top beautiful Corinthian capitals that would be coming out of Greece, Corinth, and Athens classic architecture, suggesting the idea of an empire. Now the American empire, however, was never established by power. Well, now let’s go inside and we’ll take a look at some of the great portraits and images in here. This wonderful museum once a bank, but when we go inside, you need to realize, I need to keep my voice a lot lower because there are other people enjoying it. So listen carefully and let’s learn together.

Speaker 1:
These three pictures that are before us and behind me are quite remarkable. You see on the right, this is William White. He was a very important figure in the creation of the modern day Episcopal church. Imagine being a member of the church of England, and you just fought a revolution against the head of that church, the king. Well, to reorganize that faith tradition, it took a Bishop and that became an official Bishop by act of Congress, working together with the London, a Bishop to ordained him as Bishop in the new states. And so William White becomes a very important figure, an educator and also a chaplain to Congress. And then on this side, we have Martha Custis Washington. This is George Washington’s beloved wife. She would never have seen Washington during the revolutionary war. If she didn’t make the point to come to be wherever he was wintering. During those eight years of the revolutionary war, the way that she put it, I arrive after the last bullet is fired and I leave before the next year’s bullet is fired for the first time.

Speaker 1:
She is a Patriot supporting George in very difficult times. Washington promised to be home on Christmas Eve. And he was, its just, he never had said which year. It was eight years later after he promised. And then on this side, we have an extraordinary picture of Lafayette. This is a picture of the Marqui Lafayette upon his return. And Lafayette is extraordinarily significant for a number of reasons. One, he was a freedom fighter that risked everything to become part of the American cause he actually was wounded at the battle of Brandywine. His connections with the court was part of the reason why the French ultimately joined the American cause. But we also need to realize that Lafayette was such an impressive young man that Washington and Lafayette essentially developed a close friendship where it’s almost as a father to an adopted son. The letters that passed between them as quite remarkable, the Lafayette is not only important because of that.

Speaker 1:
He actually told Washington that he had purchased an island to provide freedom for slaves. And so, as Lafayette was thinking about Liberty, he realized it should be applied to the slaves. And that had an impact on Washington’s thinking about slavery, Washington album, that we will free his slave slaves in his own will upon his death and the death of his wife. So Washington grew from being a cavalier slave owner to becoming an emancipator. And also we need to think about Lafayette when he returned back, he had survived the French revolution, quite an extraordinary thing. But what is remarkable is that when he returned to Philadelphia and he thought about all that happened here, he went by the Pennsylvania state house and he said that great hall of independence as he referred to it. Well, that was the first time those words came together in that way.

Speaker 1:
And it was changed from that form from the great hall of independence to independence hall, which we’ve known it by ever since. So Lafayette has made an impact on every one of us to talk about American history. We talk about the wonderful independence of our nation. Also bringing the French in more closely with the American cause and even helping us to end slavery, what a great commitment to Liberty he leaves. And we owe him a great deal. As I recall that when the D-Day invasion occurred, some of the people said, Lafayette, we’ve returned to say thank you. Well, this is Providence today. Make sure you find our downloadable app. It’s free. Get our wonderful free faith and freedom guide. Just go to Providence forum.org. And we hope that you’ll continue to learn about the way that Providence is shaping our nation’s history. Even today. Indeed Providence today.

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