Opinion of the Court
authorized under the law to do a class of business not strictly that of commercial banking. . . .
"[The federal banking laws, while granting national banks certain "incidental powers," do not give them] either expressly nor by necessary implication the power to act as agents for insurance companies. . . .
. . . . . "My investigations lead me respectfully to recommend to Congress an amendment to the national-bank act by which national banks located in [small towns] . . . may be permitted to act as agents for insurance companies . . . .
"It seems desirable from the standpoint of public policy and banking efficiency that this authority should be limited to banks in small communities. This additional income will strengthen them and increase their ability to make a fair return . . . .
"I think it would be unwise and therefore undesirable to confer this privilege generally upon banks in large cities where the legitimate business of banking affords ample scope for the energies of trained and expert bankers . . . .
"I inclose . . . a draft . . . designed to empower national banks located in [small] towns . . . under such regulations and restrictions as may from time to time be approved and promulgated by the Comptroller of the Currency, to act as agents for the placing of insurance policies . . . ." 53 Cong. Rec. 11001 (1916) (letter from Comptroller Williams to the Chairman of the Senate Bank and Currency Committee).
Assuming for argument's sake that this letter is relevant, and in response to the arguments of Florida and its supporters, we point out that the letter does not significantly advance their cause. Although the letter mentions that enlarging the powers of small national banks will help them "better compete with local State banks," it primarily focuses upon small town national banks' need for added revenue—Page: Index Previous 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 Next
Last modified: October 4, 2007