Returning to the subject of the panic of 1893, of the one hundred and fifty-eight national banks that suspended during the report year of that period, thirty-eight were in the Southern States, forty-nine in the Western States, sixty-six in the Pacific States and Territories, two in the New England States, and three in the Middle States. Of the suspensions in the Southern States nineteen resumed business and the same number failed. Of those that suspended in the Western States thirty-one resumed business and seventeen failed. In the Pacific States thirty-six resumed business and twenty-five went into the hands of receivers. Receivers were appointed for both of the banks that suspended in the New England States and for two of those in the Middle States.
During the first eight months of 1893, Bradstreet's Agency reported four hundred and fifteen bank failures of all kinds, national, State and private, and loan and trust companies. The assets of these four hundred and fifteen institutions were reported as aggregating $94,291,348, and their liabilities as $97,193,530.
A large percentage of the national banks that were compelled to close their doors were unquestionably solvent, as their early resumption of business fully demonstrated. They were forced to suspend because of their inability to realize immediately on their assets cash sufficient to meet the demands of their panic-stricken depositors, without a ruinous sacrifice. While the suspension of a bank under ordinary conditions would be presumptive evidence of insolvency and justify the placing of the association in the hands of a receiver, Mr. Eckels very wisely drew a distinction between a suspended solvent institution and one which he knew or had good reason to believe was insolvent. The former he assisted in every proper way and encouraged them to resume business, and the latter he immediately placed in the hands of receivers to wind up their affairs. No bank was permitted to resume business whose assets were not believed to be sufficient to pay its liabilities to depositors and other creditors in full over and above an unimpaired capital.
In some instances Mr. Eckels was severely criticised by depositors who were clamorous for their money, but he calmly pursued the even tenor of his way and did what he believed to be for the best interests of all concerned.
In replying to some of his critics who demanded the appointment of receivers for suspended associations which he had good reason to believe were solvent and were able to pay their creditors in full, he stated that he proposed to exercise to the fullest extent the discretion vested in him by law, by aiding in every legitimate manner every suspended solvent institution to resume business at the earliest possible moment as the best means of quickly restoring confidence and a return to normal conditions, and suggested that his critics would better contribute toward this end by cooperating with him in this endeavor instead of finding fault with him in his efforts to do so. The results of Mr. Eckels' policy in this respect justified the course that he pursued and proved the wisdom of his judgment.