The failures of the National Bank of North America and the Amsterdam National Bank of New York City, which occurred during the last year of Mr. Ridgely's administration, while not involving very large interests, were of no less importance because of the prominence of the parties concerned and the intimate relation of these failures to the panic of 1907.
These banks were not large institutions, measured by the standard of what constitutes largeness in New York City, and neither bank was insolvent when it was closed.
The capital of the National Bank of North America was $2,000,000. Its deposits amounted to $6,890,000, and its total liabilities to $13,326,000. It was placed in the hands of a receiver by the Comptroller on January 27, 1908, after the adoption of a resolution by its board of directors requesting him to make an examination of the bank, and to take temporary charge of its affairs, if, in his judgment, the situation warranted such action.
This resolution of the directors was not adopted because of any belief on their part that the bank was insolvent. But on account of the extreme difficulty experienced in realizing on the assets rapidly enough to enable them to meet the demands of depositors, which had been very heavy and persistent during the several previous days, and the fear of further large withdrawals, they deemed it best in the interests of the association to temporarily suspend operations and thus prevent a sacrifice of the assets, which otherwise would have been necessary, as the Clearing House Association had refused to extend to the bank any further assistance.
The persistent run upon this institution which necessitated its suspension was due wholly to a lack of confidence in the management, of which Charles W. Morse was the controlling factor. Morse was known to be intimately associated with F. Augustus Heinze, who at that time was very much in the public eye, having acquired an unenviable reputation in connection with his prolonged contest with the Standard Oil Company in Montana over a deal in Amalgamated Copper. He had been accused of having manipulated the courts and the Legislature of that State in his own interests, and of other dishonorable transactions in mining and banking, and Thomas W. Lawson made him the object of criticism in his articles on "Frenzied Finance." Morse, Heinze and their associates had the reputation of being speculators, or, at least, of being engaged in operations of very questionable merit. They jointly owned or controlled a number of small banking institutions in New York, National and State. It was assumed, as a matter of course, that the speculative operations in which they were known to be engaged, were being financed by these banks, and this suspicion was not calculated to inspire confidence in the management of the banks or in the stability of the institutions with which they were connected. Consequently, on the first indication of a financial disturbance, these institutions were the object of distrust and attack, and the panic of 1907 forced them to succumb.
That the National Bank of North America was not insolvent when it was closed was fully demonstrated by the rapid liquidation of its affairs under the receivership. Its creditors were paid in full with interest from the date of closing, and cash and assets amounting to $2,387,750 were returned to the stockholders. The receivership was finally closed October 31, 1908, within eight months from the date of suspension.