Operation HOPE was honored to collaborate with the U.S. National Archives on the recognition of the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's Freedman's Bank, on March 3rd, 2015 in Washington, D.C. In this regard, it was especially important to have with us the U.S. Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry, whose agency oversaw the wind down of the Freedman's Bank in 1874.
Comptroller Curry is a good man, and this was not the first time that he has shown genuine concern for the underserved. He also spent a day with the Operation HOPE team in Atlanta, Georgia, at the HOPE Inside @ Ebenezer flagship location across from the King Center. Not only did he spend time with staff, HOPE clients, leaders and the public alike, he also took time to tour the final resting place for Dr. Martin Luther King and Mrs. Coretta Scott King.
You can read Comptroller Curry's full and complete remarks below.
Remarks by Thomas J. Curry Comptroller of the Currency On the 150th Anniversary of the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company Washington, D.C. March 3, 2015
Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here with you today to commemorate one of the truly noble experiments in American financial history—the founding of Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company, better known as Freedman’s Savings Bank—150 years ago today. I suspect most of you are familiar with at least the general outlines of Freedman’s history, and know something about its purpose and the cause of its failure. You probably know that it was created in 1865 through an act of Congress to provide newly-freed slaves with a safe depository for their money. And you may also know that it failed in 1874, costing tens of thousands of African-American depositors some or all of their life savings. What you are probably less familiar with, however, is the role that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency played in Freedman’s history, both in trying to save the bank and in trying to help its depositors once it became insolvent. According to an article written by OCC economist Abby L. Gilbert and published in 1972, the OCC not only discovered the bank’s insolvency, but a succession of Comptrollers spent four decades pleading with Congress to compensate the freedmen who had lost their savings in the bank’s collapse.
The work and mission....continues.