Beautifully engraved certificate from the Marine National Bank
issued in 1865. This historic document was printed by Wm. Everdell's & Sons and has an
ornate border around it with a vignette of an ship at sea. This item has the signatures of the Company's President, James D. Fish and Secretary and is over 156 years old.
The Marine National Bank failure which brought down the firm of Grant & Ward which was a venture of Ulysses S. Grant and Ferdinand Ward. This downfall finalcially destroyed Ulysses S. Grant and left him penniless when he died.
New York Herald, May 25, 1884
CRIMINAL ASPECTS OF RECENT EVENTS.
At last the United States authorities have moved for the all the arrest of the national bank ex-president, John C. Eno and James D. Fish.
One of the most surprising features of the financial irregularities now fresh in the public mind is that while proof of flagrant criminality has been brought to light no attempt has been hitherto made to call any offender to criminal account. It is evident that crimes had been committed by more than one person against the laws of the State, yet the criminal authorities have looked with singular apathy and indifference upon offenses which it was their plain function to proceed against. Ferdinand Ward has been unmasked as an unparalleled swindler, but none of his numerous victims has made any criminal complaint against him, and neither the District Attorney of county nor the Grand Jury appears to have taken any step toward his indictment. Ward is in jail, but on civil process. Whether or not James D. Fish, a fellow operator with Ward, has committed any criminal offense, and whether John C. Eno is or is not guilty of a crime for which men are supposed be sent to state prison, are matters that had been treated with unconcern by those charged with the duty of setting the State law in motion against criminal offenders.
But there is another aspect of the matter still more suggestive and significant. Criminal offenses have apparently been committed against the national banking laws, yet the federal officers whose duty it is to move in such cases appear to have been as inactive as the State authorities. The Revised Statutes of United States declare that "every president, director, cashier, teller, clerk or agent of any national bank who embezzles, abstracts or willfully misapplies any of the moneys, funds or credits of the association,* * * or who make any false entry in any book, report or statement of the association,* * * and every person who would like intent aids or abets any officer, clerk or agent in any violation of this section, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be imprisoned not less than five years nor more than ten." To say nothing about the suspension of the Metropolitan National Bank, the Marine National has been wrecked, and its own president, with Ward as an accomplice, found to be the author of its ruin. That Fish's questionable transaction as chief executive of the institution were studiously kept from the knowledge of the directors is shown by the fact that on the very morning of its failure these officers supposed to the bank to be in a sound and flourishing condition. Without their authority or knowledge the presidential trust had been abused to an extent that brought sudden ruin upon the bank.
Did James D. Fish "willfully misapply any of the moneys, funds or credits of the association?" Did he "make any false entry in any book, report or statement of the association with intent to injure or defraud the association or to deceive any officer of the association?" If so, he is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment not less than five years. Did Ferdinand Ward aid or abet the president of this bank in any violation of the law we have cited? If so, Ward is also guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to the same punishment. It is not easy to explain the transactions of either on any theory which does not suggest a criminal violation of the national banking law, yet both have enjoyed an immunity from molestation which can only be justified on the ground of their own innocence and the regularity the practices.
But the most flagrant and scandalous case of official malfeasance ever unearthed in a national bank is that of the Second National. If report be true, that institution has been plundered by its president to the unparalleled extent of millions. That an enormous deficit was suddenly discovered, that it was mysteriously made up and hushed up by the directors, that the culprit was the president himself, are matters of common notoriety. Did John C. Eno "embezzle, abstract or willfully misapply any of the moneys, funds or credits of the association?" In plain English, did he, as is commonly reported without contradiction, rob the bank of millions of dollars? If so, he has committed a crime against the national bank law for which the penalty is not less than five years imprisonment. But has any officer of the bank, cognizant of the facts, made any complaint against the offender?
But more than this. The national banking law makes it the duty of the Comptroller of the Currency, with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury, to appoint a suitable person or persons to make an examination of the affairs of a national bank whenever it shall deem necessary or proper. The examiners so appointed are authorized to make a thorough investigation and to examine any of the bank officers on oath. There probably has never been a case in which a examination was more imperatively called for than that of the alleged criminal defalcation which has been reported in the Second National Bank, and the details of which are studiously kept secret by the directors. Yet, so far as public is informed no such examination has been begun or even ordered by the Comptroller of the Currency.
The apathy and delay on the part of those whose duty it is to take cognizance of offenses against the national bank law and to proceed against the offenders are more than amazing or mysterious. It is an encouragement of crime that can only be productive of mischief. There has been and should be no lack of confidence in our national banking system. But how can this confidence been maintained unshaken unless presidential who wreck and plunder national banks are dealt with promptly and vigorously by the criminal authorities?