Dallas chosen as one of 12 Federal Reserve Bank locations 100 years ago

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas opened on Nov. 16, 1914 and turns 100 this year. It’s grown from 27 employees that first year to about 1,200 (more than 900 in Dallas), and assets have increased from $21.8 million its first year to $156 billion in total assets by the end of 2013.


On April 3, 1914, the Dallas Morning News announced on the front page that Dallas was chosen to become one of 12 Fed regional banks.

Dallas Fed president Richard Fisher talked about the bank’s history and how it was chosen as a Federal Reserve Site at a 2012 speech to the Dallas Historical Society:

When George Dealey, then publisher of The Dallas Morning News, learned of the potential to host a Federal Reserve Bank, “he enacted a no-holds-barred action plan to secure the franchise for Dallas,” Fisher said in the speech.

Dealey organized a pro-Dallas rally in Washington. He encouraged studies to make the case for our city. He lobbied the Reserve Bank Organization Committee. These were the visible parts of his campaign. He applied his most effective techniques sub-rosa: He adroitly harvested his friendship with an influential member of the Wilson administration — Postmaster General Albert Burleson — with an eye to ultimately convince the secretary of the treasury, William McAdoo.

Burleson was a native Texan, with whom Dealey often corresponded through coded telegrams, using names like “Mercury” and “Tacitus” — the Dallas Historical Society has those original telegrams, along with other artifacts relating to our founding, on hand tonight. Thanks to a man named Otto Prager — the postmaster of Washington and a loyal former Dealey employee — Mr. Dealey heard that Burleson would be traveling by train from St. Louis to Dallas. So he dispatched The Dallas Morning News reporter Tom Finty and Dallas Clearing House executive Howard Ardrey to St. Louis. There, they boarded the train and “accidentally” ran into Postmaster General Burleson. By the time the train arrived in Dallas, Burleson was convinced that our city deserved a Federal Reserve Bank.

At Dealey’s urging, Burleson contacted Treasury Secretary McAdoo and argued the merits of selecting Dallas, backed up by this document here, pulled together by the Dallas Chamber, the Dallas Clearing House and the Dallas Cotton Exchange.

Secretary McAdoo was not only a key player on the Reserve Bank Organization Committee, he was married to Woodrow Wilson’s daughter. He decided for Dallas and, voilà, we were selected as the headquarters for the 11th of 12 Federal Reserve Districts.

Source: Dallas Morning News, April 3, 2014.
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