The lost history of the Freedman’s Bank — and what President Abraham Lincoln did to help truly free and empower former slaves — is important not only to a generation of African-Americans today. It is important to America.
President Lincoln chartered a bank, March 3rd, 1865, designed to ‘teach freed slaves about money.’ Arguably, the most important president we have had in America’s history, thought the most important thing he could do, after slavery, and after the civil war, and after the Emancipation Proclamation, was to teach former slaves about money and the free enterprise system. The president thought it so important, that he placed the bank ultimately across the street from the White House and the U.S. Treasury Department, so he could go up into the residence at night, and look out the window to see the candles burning — to make sure they were working for the people, at the Freedman’s Bank.
Frederick Douglass thought the bank so important, even after Lincoln’s assassination, he attempted to save the bank and decided to run it himself, invested $10,000 of his own money (approximately $20M today). The bank would have more than 50B in assets today, with not one additional dollar of contribution from any new depositors. This achievement — was reached exclusively with the resources of those we would know today only as ‘former slaves.’
The story of what ‘never was,’ was and remains one of the most incredible untold stories of American history. I plan to not only go around the country telling this story — I plan on finishing what President Lincoln, and later Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and my hero Ambassador Andrew Young, started and tried to advance in their lifetime. Operation HOPE and I plan on launching 1,000 HOPE Inside locations, nationwide through year 2020.
HOPE Inside of bank branches, credit unions, grocery stories, big box retailers, houses of faith, government offices, hospitals, and other places where people ‘stop, flock and shop.’
More on my silver rights empowerment vision later, but for now — see you on the road on one of growing list of important stops of the Freedman’s Bank Tour, celebrating its 150 anniversary.
Okay, let’s go…
John Hope Bryant