The Federal Advisory Council
In steamrolling the Federal Reserve Act through the House of Representatives, Congressman Carter Glass declared on September 30, 1913 on the floor of the House that the interests of the public would be protected by an advisory council of bankers. "There can be nothing sinister about its transactions. Meeting with it at least four times a year will be a bankers’ advisory council representing every regional reserve district in the system. How could we have exercised greater caution in safeguarding the public interest?
Carter Glass neither then nor later gave any substantiation for his belief that a group of bankers would protect the interests of the public, nor is there any evidence in the history of the United States that any group of bankers has ever done so. In fact, the Federal Advisory Council proved to be the "administrative process" which Paul Warburg had inserted into the Federal Reserve Act to provide just the type of remote but unseen control over the System which he desired. When he was asked by financial reporter C.W. Barron, just after the Federal Reserve Act was enacted into law by Congress, whether he approved of the bill as it was finally passed, Warburg replied, "Well, it hasn’t got quite everything we want, but the lack can be adjusted later by administrative processes." The council proved to be the ideal vehicle for Warburg’s purposes, as it has functioned for seventy years in almost complete anonymity, its members and their business associations, unnoticed by the public.
Senator Robert Owen, chairman of the Senate Banking and Currency Committee, had said, as quoted in The New York Times, August 3, 1913 before passage of the act:
"The Federal Reserve Act will furnish the bank and industrial and commercial interests with the
discount of qualified commercial paper and thus stabilize our commercial and industrial life. The
Federal Reserve banks are not intended as money making banks, but to serve a great national
purpose of accommodating commerce and businessmen and banks, safeguard a fixed market for
manufactured goods, for agricultural products and for labor. There is no reason why the banks
should be in control of the Federal Reserve system. Stability will make our commerce expand
healthfully in every direction."
Senator Owen’s optimism was doomed by the domination of the Jekyll Island promoters over the initial composition of the Federal Reserve System. Not only did the Morgan-Kuhn, Loeb alliance purchase the dominant control of stock in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, with almost half of the shares owned by the five New York banks under their control, First National Bank, National City Bank, National Bank of Commerce, Chase National Bank and Hanover National Bank, but they also persuaded President Woodrow Wilson to appoint one of the Jekyll Island group, Paul Warburg, to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.
Each of the twelve Federal Reserve Banks was to elect a member of the Federal Advisory Council, which would meet with the Federal Reserve Board of Governors four times a year in Washington, in order to "advise" the Board on future monetary policy. This seemed to assure absolute democracy, as each of the twelve "advisors", representing a different region of the United States, would be expected to speak up for the economic interests of his area, and each of the twelve members would have an equal vote. The theory may have been admirable in its concept, but the hard facts of economic life resulted in a quite different picture. The president of a small bank in St. Louis or Cincinnati, sitting in conference with Paul Warburg and J.P. Morgan to "advise" them on monetary policy, would be unlikely to contradict two of the most powerful international financiers in the world, as a scribbled note from either one of them would be sufficient to plunge his little bank into bankruptcy. In fact, the small banks of the twelve Federal Reserve districts existed only as satellites of the big New York financial interests, and were completely at their mercy. Martin Mayer, in The Bankers, points out that "J.P. Morgan maintained correspondent relationships with many small banks all over the country."30 The big New York banks did not confine themselves to multi-million dollar deals with other great financial interests, but carried on many smaller and more routine dealings with their "correspondent" banks across the United States.
Apparently secure in their belief that their activities would never be exposed to the public, the Morgan-Kuhn, Loeb interests boldly selected the members of the Federal Advisory Council from their correspondent banks and from banks in which they owned stock. No one in the financial community seemed to notice, as nothing was said about it during seventy years of the Federal Reserve System’s operation.
To avoid any suspicion that New York interests might control the Federal Advisory Council, its first president, elected in 1914 by the other members, was J.B. Forgan, president of the First National Bank of
30 Martin Mayer, The Bankers, Weybright and Talley, New York, 1974, p. 207.
Chicago. Rand McNally Bankers Directory for 1914 lists the principal correspondents of the large banks. The principal correspondent bank of the Baker-Morgan controlled First National Bank of New York is listed as the First National Bank of Chicago. The principal correspondent listed by the First National Bank of Chicago is the Bank of Manhattan in New York, controlled by Jacob Schiff and Paul Warburg of Kuhn, Loeb Company. James B. Forgan also was listed as a director of Equitable Life Insurance Company, also controlled by Morgan. However, the relationship between First National Bank of Chicago and these New York banks was even closer than these listings indicate.
On page 701 of The Growth of Chicago Banks by F. Cyril James, we find mention of "the First National Bank of Chicago’s profitable connection with the Morgan interests. A goodwill ambassador was hastily sent to New York to invite George F. Baker to become a director of the First National Bank of Chicago."31 (J.B. Forgan to Ream, January 7, 1903.) In effect, Baker and Morgan had personally chosen the first president of the Federal Advisory Council.
James B. Forgan (1852-1924) also shows the obligatory "London Connection" in the operation of the Federal Reserve System. Born in St. Andrew’s, Scotland, he began his banking career there with the Royal Bank of Scotland, a correspondent of the Bank of England. He came to Canada for the Bank of British North America, worked for the Bank of Nova Scotia, which sent him to Chicago in the 1880’s, and by 1900 he had become president of the First National Bank of Chicago. He served for six years as president of the Federal Advisory Council, and when he left the council, he was replaced by Frank O. Wetmore, who had also replaced him as president of the First National Bank of Chicago when Forgan was named chairman of the board.
Representing the New York Federal Reserve district on the first Federal Advisory Council was J.P. Morgan. He was named chairman of the Executive Committee. Thus, Paul Warburg and J.P. Morgan sat in conference at the meetings of the Federal Reserve Board during the first four years of its operation, surrounded by the other Governors and members of the council, who could hardly have been unaware that their futures would be guided by these two powerful bankers.
Another member of the Federal Advisory Council in 1914 was Levi L. Rue, representing the Philadelphia district. Rue was president of the Philadelphia National Bank. Rand McNally Bankers Directory of 1914 listed as principal correspondent of the First National Bank of New York,
31 F. Cyril James, The Growth of Chicago Banks, Harper, New York, 1938.
the Philadelphia National Bank. First National Bank of Chicago also listed Philadelphia National Bank as its principal correspondent in Philadelphia. The other members of the Federal Advisory Council included Daniel S. Wing, president of the First National Bank of Boston, W.S. Rowe, president of the First National Bank of Cincinnati, and C.T. Jaffray, president of the First National Bank of Minneapolis. These were all correspondent banks of the New York "big five" banks who controlled the money market in the United States.
Jaffray had an even closer connection with the Baker-Morgan interests. In 1908, to reinvest the large annual dividends from their First National Bank of New York stock, Baker and Morgan set up a holding company, First Security Corporation, which bought 500 shares of the First National Bank of Minneapolis. Thus Jaffray was little more than a wage-earning employee of Baker and Morgan, although he had been "selected" by stockholders of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis to represent their interests. First Security Corporation also owned 50,000 shares of Chase National Bank, 5400 shares of National Bank of Commerce, 2500 shares of Bankers Trust, 928 shares of Liberty National Bank, the bank of which Henry P. Davison had been president when he was tapped to join the J.P. Morgan firm, and shares of New York Trust, Atlantic Trust and Brooklyn Trust. First Security concentrated on bank stocks which rapidly appreciated in value, and paid handsome annual dividends. In 1927, it earned five million dollars, but paid the shareholders eight million, taking the rest from its surplus.
Another member of the initial Federal Advisory Council was E.F. Swinney, president of the First National Bank of Kansas City. He was also a director of Southern Railway, and lists himself in Who’s Who as "independent in politics".
Archibald Kains represented the San Francisco district on the Federal Advisory Council, although he maintained his office in New York, as president of the American Foreign Banking Corporation.
After serving as a Governor of the Federal Reserve Board from 1914-1918, Paul Warburg did not request another term. However, he was not ready to sever his connection with the Federal Reserve System which he had done so much to set up and put into operation. J.P. Morgan obligingly gave up his seat on the Federal Advisory Council, and for the next ten years, Paul Warburg continued to represent the Federal Reserve district of New York on the Council. He was vice president of the council 1922-25, and president 1926-27. Thus Warburg remained the dominant presence at Federal Reserve Board meetings throughout the 1920s, when the European central banks were planning the great contraction of credit which precipitated the Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression.
Although most of the Federal Advisory Council’s "advice" to the Board of Governors has never been reported, on rare instances a few glimpses into its deliberations were afforded by brief items in The New York Times. On November 21, 1916, The Times reported that the Federal Advisory Council had met in Washington for its quarterly conference.
"There was talk about absorbing Europe’s extension of credit to South America and other
countries. Federal Reserve officials said that to maintain a position as one of the world’s bankers
the United States must expect to be called upon to render a good deal of the service performed
largely by England in the past, in extending short term credits necessary in the production and
transportation of goods of all kinds in the world’s trade, and that acceptances in foreign trade
require lower discounts and the freest and most reliable gold markets." (The First World War
was at its zenith in 1916.)
In addition to his service on the Board of Governors and the Federal Advisory Council, Paul Warburg continued to address bankers’ groups about the monetary policies they were expected to follow. On October 22, 1915, he addressed the Twin City Bankers Club, St. Paul, Minnesota during which speech he stated,
"It is to your interest to see the Federal Reserve banks as strong as they possibly can be. It
staggers the imagination to think what the future may have in store for the development of
American banking. With Europe’s foremost powers limited to their own field, with the United
States turned into a creditor nation for all the world, the boundaries of the field that lies open for
us are determined only by our power of safe expansion. The scope of our banking future will
ultimately be limited by the amount of gold that we can muster as the foundation of our banking
and credit structure."
The composition of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and the Federal Reserve Advisory Council, from its initial membership to the present day, shows links to the Jekyll Island conference and the London banking community which offers incontrovertible evidence, acceptable in any court of law, that there was a plan to gain control of the money and credit of the people of the United States, and to use it for the profit of the architects. Old Jekyll Island hands were Frank Vanderlip, president of the National City Bank, which bought a large portion of the shares of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in 1914; Paul Warburg of Kuhn, Loeb Company; Henry P. Davison, J.P. Morgan’s righthand man, and director of the First National Bank of New York and the National Bank of Commerce, which took a large portion of Federal Reserve Bank of New York stock; and Benjamin Strong, also known as a Morgan lieutenant,
who served as Governor of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York during the 1920’s.*
The selection of the regional members of the Federal Advisory Council from the list of bankers who worked most closely with the "big five" banks of New York, and who were their principal correspondent banks, proves that the much-touted "regional safeguarding of the public interest" by Carter Glass and other Washington proponents of the Federal Reserve Act was from its very inception a deliberate deception. The fact that for seventy years this council was able to meet with the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and to "advise" the Governors on decisions of monetary policy which affected the daily lives of every person in the United States, without the public being aware of their existence, demonstrates that the planners of the central bank operation knew exactly how to achieve their objectives through "administrative processes" of which the public would remain ignorant. The claim that the "advice" of the council members is not binding on the Governors or that it carries no weight is to claim that four times a year, twelve of the most influential bankers in the United States take time from their work to travel to Washington to meet with the Federal Reserve Board merely to drink coffee and exchange pleasantries. It is a claim which anyone familiar with the workings of the business community will find impossible to take seriously. In 1914, it was a four-day trip each way for bankers from the Far West to come to Washington for a council meeting with the Federal Reserve Board. These men had extensive business interests which demanded their time. J.P. Morgan was a director of sixty-three corporations which held annual meetings, and
* "The Federal Advisory Council has great influence with the Federal Reserve Board. Conspicuously upon that council is J.P. Morgan, the leading member of J.P. Morgan Company and son of the late J.P. Morgan. Every one of the twelve members of the Advisory Council, as you well know, was educated in the same atmosphere. The Federal Reserve Act is not only a special privilege act but privileged persons have been placed in control and are its advisors in its administration. The Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Advisory Council administer the Federal Reserve System as its head authority, and no one of the lesser officials, even if they wished, would dare to cross swords with them."
(FROM: "Why Is Your Country At War?" by Charles Lindbergh, published in 1917). The above paragraph explains why Woodrow Wilson ordered government agents to seize and destroy the printing plates and copies of this book in the spring of 1918.
could hardly be expected to travel to Washington to attend meetings of the Federal Reserve Board if his advice was to be considered of no importance.**
** The J.P. Morgan connection has remained predominant on the Federal Advisory Council. For the past several years, the prestigious Federal Reserve District No. 2, the New York District, has been represented on the Federal Advisory Council by Lewis Preston. Preston is Chairman of J.P. Morgan Company and also Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Morgan Guaranty Trust, New York. An heir to the Baldwin fortune (a company controlled by Morgan), Preston married the heiress to the Pulitzer newspaper fortune. On February 26, 1929, The New York Times noted that a merger had been effected between National Bank of Commerce and Guaranty Trust, making them the largest bank in the United States, with a capital of two billion dollars. The merger was negotiated by Myron C. Taylor, president of U.S. Steel, a Morgan firm. The banks occupied adjoining buildings on Wall Street, and, as The New York Times noted, "The Guaranty Trust Company long has been known as one of ‘the Morgan group’ of banks." The National Bank of Commerce has also been identified with Morgan interests.