Member Biography

Nicholas Biddle 

Member
Sessions Office Position District Party
1814-1815         Federalist
1815-1816       1 Federalist
1816-1817       1 Federalist

COUNTIES: Philadelphia  


Biography

01/08/1786 - 02/27/1844


Nicholas Biddle (Federalist1) Philadelphia City, Philadelphia County 1814-1817

Early Life:

Nicholas Biddle, born January 8, 1786, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania; son of Charles and Hanna Shepherd Biddle; private education, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; University of Pennsylvania, 1799, (age 13); Princeton, valedictorian, 1801; appointed, secretary, United States minister, France, mission, Paris, 1804; appointed, secretary, United States minister, England; removed, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, practiced law 1807-1812; associate editor, Port-Folio; elected, Pennsylvania State House of Representatives, 1810; elected, Federalist, Pennsylvania State Senate, Pennsylvania, 1814-1817; financier; appointed, Director, re-chartered United States Bank, President Monroe, 1819; February 27, 1844 (aged 58), Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania; interment, Saint Peter's Episcopal Churchyard, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania.    

Early Life:

Appointed, secretary, John Armstrong, United States minister, France; mission, Paris, 1804. During Napoleon's coronation, and another when diplomatic relations between France and the United States soured. Detailed to audit and pay certain claims against the United States, from funds tied to the Louisiana Purchase.

Appointed, secretary, United States minister, Court of Saint James, England, under James Monroe.

Publisher, Port-Folio which included coverage of Lewis and Clarke's report from the mouth of the Columbia River, including an introductory memoir to Captain Lewis from Thomas Jefferson.

Associate editor, magazine called Port-Folio published, 1806-1823. After Captain Meriwether Lewis and William Clark returned from their expedition charting the new Louisiana Territory, he initially prepared, but was not officially credited with, their official report in a two-volume publication.

 Appointed, Director, re-chartered United States Bank, President James Monroe, 1819. 

Pennsylvania Politics:

Elected, Pennsylvania State House of Representatives, 1810.

Elected, Federalist, Pennsylvania State Senate, 1st district, Philadelphia City, Philadelphia, County 1814-1817;resigned, his seat prior to the beginning of the 1817-1818 session, was replaced by John Read.

Legacy:

His oversight of the “Second Bank of the United States” became an integral point of American history. 
During the War of 1812, Biddle delivered his first speech expressing the need for the re-charter of the United States Bank.  The speech was considered a success, as well as representing his first leap in the nation’s financial history.  In 1819, his, and other national bank advocate hopes were realized as President Monroe re-chartered the institution as the Second United States Bank in Philadelphia. The following account from Appleton’s Encyclopedia is a succinct a description of subsequent developments of the Jackson-Biddle Second bank dispute:

“President Monroe appointed him a government director (1919 Bank Charter), and on the resignation of Mr. Cheves he became president of the bank, conducting its vast business with marked ability. During his connection with it he was appointed by Monroe, under authority from Congress, to prepare a "Commercial Digest" of the laws and trade regulations of the world, which was for many years an authority. The ‘bank war,’ inaugurated by President Andrew Jackson in 1829, undermined the credit of the institution, and after the bill for its re-charter was vetoed in 1832 (by Jackson), Mr. Biddle's efforts to save the bank were unavailing. The withdrawal of the government deposits by Jackson's order in 1833 precipitated financial disasters that involved the whole country. Mr. Biddle's friends assert that his refusal to lend the influence of the bank to partisan ends was the provoking cause of the president's hostility, but this is denied by Jackson's admirers. The literature of the ‘bank war’ is voluminous, including a series of letters by Mr. Biddle, vindicating his course. Surrounding Biddle in support (1832-33) was a collection of state Senate Democrats called the “inglorious eight” by Jackson men.  The eight “Bank Democrats” joined Whigs and Anti-masons in voting for a state Charter of the Second Bank of the United States in Philadelphia, despite Jackson’s 1832 veto.  In 1839, Biddle resigned the bank presidency, and in 1841 the (now) state bank finally failed.  It exists today as the Customs House, aka the Marble Palace, in Philadelphia. However unfortunate Biddle’s attempt at establishing a central bank, its model is replicated in a number of fashions today. 

Father, Pennsylvania State Senator Charles Biddle (Federalist no district number) Philadelphia City, Philadelphia County, 1810-1814.

First cousin, Major and Pennsylvania State Senator Marks John Biddle, Berks and Schuylkill Counties 1816-1819.

Cited:

Cox, Harold. "Senate Members B"Wilkes University Election Statistics Project. Wilkes University.

Harrisburg Republican (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) November 11, 1817.

https://elections.lib.tufts.edu/catalog/BN0101

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/93/nicholas-biddle