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Second Bank of the United States

A who’s who of Revolutionary War-era portraiture

The Second Bank of the United States is known for its extensive collection of portraits by Charles Willson Peale.

The Second Bank is known for its extensive collection of portraits by Charles Willson Peale. Credit: B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia

Description

Overview

The Second Bank of the United States packs a large punch in a relatively small space, filled with an extraordinary collection of 18th-century portraits. It’s also a genuine architectural treasure, modeled on the Parthenon and acting as the standard-bearer for many subsequent American bank buildings.

Inside, it holds a repository of portraits depicting many of the men vital to 18th-century America’s development. Included in that list are Declaration of Independence signers Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Mifflin and Robert Morris, alongside paintings of Marquis de Lafayette, Patrick Henry and Casimir Pulaski.

History

The Second Bank earned its place in history in 1832 when President Andrew Jackson vetoed a bill seeking to re-charter the bank because he viewed it as an unconstitutional monopoly. Running for reelection, Jackson made his anti-bank stance a critical issue of his campaign and handily defeated opponent Henry Clay.

Insider Tip

Eighty-five of the portraits on view here are by Charles Willson Peale, one of early America’s most famous portraitist.

Kids’ stuff

Kids will be intrigued by the pine sculpture of George Washington, as well as his original death mask.

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