Analysis: How Powerful Is Financial Inclusion?
By Áine Doris
The tumult of 2020 has prompted many people to look back in time for historical parallels and precedents, from the violent and racially driven US protests of 1968, to the economic pain of the Great Depression, to the flu pandemic of 1918, to the politicization and political upheaval of the American Civil War. What challenges have Americans encountered in the past? How did the country overcome them, or fail to do so?
In the vast array of documents, sources, and events to unpack, there is a bank, formed in the waning days of the Civil War, that is getting some attention from researchers. In 1865, the same year it passed the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery, Congress set up a bank for newly emancipated Black Americans—nearly 4 million people freed from slavery—to accelerate their economic empowerment. The Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company opened in New York, and its headquarters swiftly moved to Washington, DC, with a further 37 branches established in quick succession across 17 US states.
Photo courtesy Tai’s Captures.