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In fact, no benefaction took place at Jekyll Island. The Aldrich group journeyed there in private to write the banking and currency legislation which the National Monetary Commission had been ordered to prepare in public. At stake was the future control of the money and credit of the United States. If any genuine monetary reform had been prepared and presented to Congress, it would have ended the power of the elitist one world money creators. Jekyll Island ensured that a central bank would be established in the United States which would give these bankers everything they had always wanted.
As the most technically proficient of those present, Paul Warburg was charged with doing most of the drafting of the plan. His work would then be discussed and gone over by the rest of the group. Senator Nelson Aldrich was there to see that the completed plan would come out in a form which he could get passed by Congress, and the other bankers were there to include whatever details would be needed to be certain that they got everything they wanted, in a finished draft composed during a onetime stay. After they returned to New York, there could be no second get together to rework their plan. They could not hope to obtain such secrecy for their work on a second journey.
The Jekyll Island group remained at the club for nine days, working furiously to complete their task. Despite the common interests of those present, the work did not proceed without friction. Senator Aldrich, always a domineering person, considered himself the chosen leader of the group, and could not help ordering everyone else about. Aldrich also felt somewhat out of place as the only member who was not a professional banker. He had had substantial banking interests throughout his career, but only as a person who profited from his ownership of bank stock. He knew little about the technical aspects of financial operations. His opposite number, Paul Warburg, believed that every question raised by the group demanded, not merely an answer, but a lecture. He rarely lost an opportunity to give the members a long discourse designed to impress them with the extent of his knowledge of banking. This was resented by the others, and often drew barbed remarks from Aldrich. The natural diplomacy of Henry P. Davison proved to be the catalyst which kept them at their work. Warburg's thick alien accent grated on them, and constantly reminded them that they had to accept his presence if a central bank plan was to be devised which would guarantee them their future profits. Warburg made little effort to smooth over their prejudices, and contested them on every possible occasion on technical banking questions, which he considered his private preserve.
"In all conspiracies there must be great secrecy." 5
The "monetary reform" plan prepared at Jekyll Island was to be presented to Congress as the completed work of the National Monetary Commission. It was imperative that the real authors of the bill remain hidden. So great was popular resentment against bankers since the Panic of 1907 that no Congressman would dare to vote for a bill bearing the Wall Street taint, no matter who had contributed to his campaign expenses. The Jekyll Island plan was a central bank plan, and in this country there was a long tradition of struggle against inflicting a central bank on the American people. It had begun with Thomas Jefferson's fight against Alexander Hamilton's scheme for the First Bank of the United States, backed by James Rothschild. It had continued with President Andrew Jackson's successful war against Alexander Hamilton's scheme for the Second Bank of the United States, in which Nicholas Biddle was acting as the agent for James Rothschild of Paris. The result of that struggle was the creation of the Independent Sub-Treasury System, which supposedly had served to keep the funds of the United States out of the hands of the financiers. A study of the panics of 1873, 1893, and 1907 indicates that these panics were the result of the international bankers' operations in London. The public was demanding in 1908 that Congress enact legislation to prevent the recurrence of artificially induced money panics. Such monetary reform now seemed inevitable. It was to head off and control such reform that the National Monetary Commission had been set up with Nelson Aldrich at its head, since he was majority leader of the Senate.
The main problem, as Paul Warburg informed his colleagues, was to avoid the name "Central Bank". For that reason, he had decided upon the designation of "Federal Reserve System". This would deceive the people into thinking it was not a central bank. However, the Jekyll Island plan would be a central bank plan, fulfilling the main functions of a central bank; it would be owned by private individuals who would profit from ownership of shares. As a bank of issue, it would control the nation's money and credit.
In the chapter on Jekyll Island in his biography of Aldrich, Stephenson writes of the conference:
"How was the Reserve Bank to be controlled? It must be controlled by Congress. The government was to be represented in the board of directors, it was to have full knowledge of all the Bank's, affairs, but a majority of the directors were to be chosen, directly or indirectly, by the banks of the association." 6
Thus the proposed Federal Reserve Bank was to be "controlled by Congress" and answerable to the government, but the majority of the directors were to be chosen, "directly or indirectly" by the banks of the association. In the final refinement of Warburg's plan, the Federal Reserve Board of Governors would be appointed by the President of the United States, but the real work of the Board would be controlled by a Federal Advisory Council, meeting with the Governors. The Council would be chosen by the directors of the twelve Federal Reserve Banks, and would remain unknown to the public.
The next consideration was to conceal the fact that the proposed "Federal Reserve System" would be dominated by the masters of the New York money market. The Congressmen from the South and the West could not survive if they voted for a Wall Street plan. Farmers and small businessmen in those areas had suffered most from the money panics. There had been great popular resentment against the Eastern bankers, which during the nineteenth century became a political movement known as "populism". The private papers of Nicholas Biddle, not released until more than a century after his death, show that quite early on the Eastern bankers were fully aware of the widespread public opposition to them.