During the Revolutionary War, the rebelling colonies and the Continental Congress were anything but too big to fail. To the contrary, finances were very spotty and precarious. To help put affairs in order and make credit available, the first commercial bank in the U.S. opened this day in 1782, just a week after being chartered by the Congress. Called the Bank of North America, it was capitalized at $400,000. The names of founding stockholders read like a list of our Founding Fathers: Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, James Monroe, John Jay, and John Paul Jones. Today there are over 91,000 commercial banking establishments in the U.S. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau, online at <www.census.gov>.
Sunday, January 6th. The struggle for black citizens to obtain full civil rights has gone on for many decades since the Civil War. But along the way, there were signs of early progress and acceptance on the part of the majority white population. One such instance occurred on this date in 1886, when African-American Bishop Benjamin W. Arnett took his seat in the Ohio House of Representatives. Elected in a majority white district, he served one term. He was also Ohio’s first black foreman of an otherwise white jury. There are over 89,000 separate state and local governments in the U.S. and some 7,300 state level legislators. You can find more facts about America’s people, places and economy from the American Community Survey at <www.census.gov>.
Saturday, January 5th. The business world was startled on this date in 1914, when Henry Ford announced that he would pay his workers a minimum wage of $5 a day, which is about $116 today. The idea eventually gained general acceptance, and in 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law a federally mandated minimum wage of 25 cents an hour. Currently, the hourly minimum wage is $7.25. There are nearly 74 million hourly workers in the U.S., 3.8 million of them paid at or below the minimum wage. Households in the bottom 20 percent of income earn no more than $20,262 per year. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau, online at <www.census.gov>.