The Bank of North America, the nation’s first central bank, opened in Philadelphia on Jan. 7, 1782. Robert Morris presented the plan for the bank to the Continental Congress on May 17, 1781. The Continental Congress approved the institution on May 26, 1781, and chartered it on Dec. 31, 1781.
In the era of the Revolutionary War, states used their own currencies, which proved problematic in trying to finance the war. The Bank of North America stabilized the colonial economy with a national currency, which helped centralize the growing national debt for the war.
The Bank of North America built the credit of the United States with European nations, and Morris used his personal wealth to guarantee war-time loans. Congress appointed Morris the Financial Agent of the United States so that he could direct bank operations.