At the date Mr. Dawes assumed charge of the Currency Bureau there were one hundred and twenty-one banks in the hands of receivers. All of these receiverships had progressed to a greater or less degree toward final liquidation. The cream of the assets of most of them had been skimmed off by Mr. Dawes' predecessor in his energetic efforts to finally close as many of them as possible before retiring from office. Every asset that could possibly be converted into cash had been collected, compromised or sold. In consequence, such of the receiverships as Mr. Dawes inherited from his predecessor contained mostly, if not wholly, assets of a slow, doubtful or worthless character, a considerable portion of which was involved in litigation.
Notwithstanding this fact, Mr. Dawes set vigorously to work to reduce the expenses of these receiverships and to hasten their final closing. Receivers' salaries, and the salaries of their attorneys and clerks, were reduced to correspond with the diminished assets consequent upon the progress made in liquidation, and also by the consolidation of the trusts in the hands of fewer receivers. As a result, a saving of at least one hundred thousand dollars was effected during the first ten months of Mr. Dawes' administration.
While the burden fell with full force upon Mr. Eckels to handle the unprecedented number of bank failures that occurred during his administration resulting from the panic of 1893 and to set the machinery in motion to manage the numerous receiverships, the most difficult problems growing out of the situation devolved upon Mr. Dawes to solve, involving the handling and disposition of almost every conceivable kind of property and complications, and the consideration and determination of the most exacting and frequently perplexing questions.
In furtherance of his policy of economy in the administration of receiverships, Mr. Dawes conceived and put in operation the plan of concentrating in the hands of one receiver, located in Washington, all inactive trusts, or such as had been liquidated to a point where the remaining assets were of a nature that required nursing and would involve serious sacrifice under a forced sale, consisting principally of real estate and claims in litigation. Nineteen receiverships of this character were removed to Washington during the first year of Mr. Dawes' administration, and the services of eighteen independent receivers, together with their assistants, clerks and office expenses, were dispensed with.
Mr. Dawes was led to the adoption of this policy, as he stated in his first annual report, because of the fact that experience had shown that, with some marked exceptions, the indifference of local receivers to the business demands of their trusts had a tendency to grow as the assets and their compensation diminished.
The good results attained from this policy of consolidation so amply justified the experiment that the practice has since been continued by his successors in office.