McCulloch, Hugh

McCulloch, Hugh

(məkŭl`ək), 1808–95, American financier and public official, b. Kennebunk, Maine. Educated at Bowdoin College, he studied law in Boston and practiced two years at Fort Wayne, Ind., before turning to banking and eventually becoming president of the State Bank of Indiana. In 1863 he became U.S. comptroller of the currency and launched the new national banking system. Appointed (1865) Secretary of the Treasury by Abraham Lincoln, he held office through Andrew Johnson's term. While in office, despite congressional opposition, he favored rapid reduction of the huge debt left by the Civil War as well as retirement of the legal tender notes (see greenbackgreenback,
in U.S. history, legal tender notes unsecured by specie (coin). In 1862, under the exigencies of the Civil War, the U.S. government first issued legal tender notes (popularly called greenbacks) that were placed on a par with notes backed by specie.
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) and a return to specie payments in order to prevent overspeculation and a panic. After leaving the Treasury in 1869, McCulloch went into the investment business. From Oct., 1884, to Mar., 1885, he again served as Secretary of the Treasury.

Bibliography

See his Men and Measures of Half a Century (1888).

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