In 1868, the OCC's headquarters staff consisted of 72 clerks, a third of them women. Their work was tedious. The office dispatched orders to the examiner force across the country, received and processed applications for charters and other corporate changes, and filed the examination reports. The national currency had to be ordered from printers (initially private contractors and later the federal Bureau of Engraving and Printing). Under tight security, the currency had to be cut, registered, bundled, and shipped to the issuing national bank, where each note was supposed to be signed by hand. The U.S. bonds deposited with the Comptroller's office required similar care. When a bank failed or was voluntarily dissolved, the outstanding notes had to be withdrawn and destroyed and the bond security liquidated.
1866 - 1913
The System in Operation
Of the 1,600 state banks that existed in 1860, only 300 remained by 1866, while the national banking system shot ahead in numbers and influence. In his 1872 Annual Report to Congress, Comptroller John Jay Knox took pride in the nearly decade-old system's contribution to the country's rising wealth and power.