The Freedman's Savings Bank lasted from 1865 to 1874. It was founded by the US government to provide financial services to former slaves: in particular, there was concern that if black veterans of the Union army did not have bank accounts, they would not be able to receive their pay. In terms of setting up branches and receiving deposits, the bank was a considerable success. However, the management of the bank ranged from uninvolved to corrupt, and together with the Panic of 1873, the combination proved lethal for the bank, and tens of thousands of depositors lost most of their money. Luke C.D. Stein and Constantine Yannelis offer some recent research on lessons the grim experience in "Financial Inclusion, Human Capital, and Wealth Accumulation: Evidence from the Freedman’s Savings Bank"
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Stein and Yanellis note:
The Freedman’s Savings Bank was an early government-sponsored private enterprise that was created by Congress to provide financial services to formerly enslaved African Americans. ... The bank spread rapidly, and at one point had more interstate branches than any other U.S. financial institution, and approximately one in eight Blacks in the South lived in a family that held an account with the bank. ... We obtain novel data on Freedman’s Savings Bank account holders from 27 branches with surviving bank records. These 107,197 account records include names of main account holders and their family members, totaling 483,082 non-unique individuals, roughly 12% of the 1870 Black population in the American South.
Historians, notably Osthaus (1976), have long noted that the collapse of Freedman’s Savings Bank—which many African Americans thought was fully backed by the federal government—and loss of savings led to a lack of trust in financial institutions by African Americans, and at least in part explains persistent gaps in utilization of financial services. The FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households concludes that African-American households are considerably more likely to be unbanked: 2015 survey results indicate that 18.2% of African-American households were unbanked, compared with 3.1% of white households. Almost one-third of households indicate a lack of trust in banks as the primary reason that they did not have bank accounts, with this explanation more common among African Americans. ... [W]e show that African Americans in the present day who live in counties that once had a Freedman’s Savings Bank branch are more likely to list mistrust of financial institutions as a reason for being unbanked; this association is not present for Whites.
I dug back a little bit to get more information on what why the Freedman's Savings Bank collapsed. The US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has a website with a smattering of details. Although the OCC had been founded in 1863 to provide oversight to banks and limit risk-taking that would put deposits at risk, but the Freeman's Savings Bank was exempted from OCC oversight and instead was to be overseen by Congress. The result was a lesson in the potential for dysfunction of boards, with a takeover by the corrupt.
The negroes were given to understand that the bank was absolutely safe, being under the guarantee of Congress, and having the funds invested in United States securities, which were safe as long as the government should last, and that it was a benevolent scheme solely for the benefit of the blacks. The profits, they were told, would be returned to the depositors as interest, or would be expended for negro education.
In the branch banks and at Washington, after 1868, an efficient body of negro business men was being trained. There was a sentiment that, since the bank was for the benefit of the negroes, the latter should be its officers as much as possible, and about one-half the employees were colored. At nearly all of the branches, especially after 1870, when some of the branch banks were allowed to do a regular banking business, there was an advisory board, or board of directors, of responsible colored property holders. These men were very proud of the Freedmen's Bank and of their position in connection with it. They took a deep interest in all that pertained to the institution, advised in regard to loans and investments, and promoted in every way the habit of saving on the part of their people.
As soon as the authority was given to the cashiers to make loans, they were besieged by a dangerous class of borrowers, who would have received scant consideration at the ordinary bank. Often the law of 1870, requiring that loans be made only on property worth double the loan, was violated and the cashiers proceeded to make investments on their own responsibility. Some of them loaned funds on the worthless script issued by the carpet-bag State and local governments; others loaned on cotton; some even made loans on perishable crops. The Jacksonville branch put money on everything that offered, from saw-mills out in the woods to shadowy claims on property. ... Most of the incompetent officials, it seems, were blacks; most of the corrupt ones were white. There was a belief, often expressed after the failure of the bank, that when a white cashier had stolen funds and involved the accounts of a branch, a negro official would be put in his place to serve as a scapegoat. The white clergymen who were cashiers proved to be quite unable to withstand the temptations offered by the presence of the cash in the vaults. One of the trustees (Purvis) afterwards said: “The cashiers at most of the branches were a set of scoundrels and thieves—and made no bones about it—but they were all pious men, and some of them were ministers."
The places on the board [after the move to Washington DC] were somewhat difficult to fill, and it came about that most of those who were put in were incompetent persons elected simply to fill up the lists. They had little business capacity, no business connections, no property. The incapable ones were controlled by the few capables, who, after 1869-1870, were the District of Columbia members. These latter formed a kind of a “ring" for their mutual benefit. They were involved in other schemes that made their connection with the bank of great use to them. They were at once officials of the bank, and officers of the Bureau or of the army or of the government of the District of Columbia. Howard, Balloch, Alvord, and Smith were bureau officials and were connected with Howard University, and extensive borrowers from the bank; Cooke and Huntington were officials in another bank that put its bad loans off on the Freedmen's Bank; Cooke, Eaton, Huntington, Balloch, and Richards were officials of the notorious District government; Howard, Alvord, Eaton, Stickney, Kilbourn, Latta, Clephane, Huntington, Cooke, and Richards were connected with firms that borrowed large sums from the bank, notwithstanding the fact that officials were prohibited by law from using the funds of the bank, directly or indirectly.The trustees were under no penalties for the proper execution of their trust. They were not required to make any deposits in the bank. The law fixed as a quorum nine out of fifty trustees, and further required the affirmative vote of at least five on money matters. The trustees provided in the by-laws for a finance committee of five, of whom three should be a quorum. Thus three could and did habitually dispose of the financial business of the bank when the law required at least five. Often two trustees, or one, or even the actuary (cashier), negotiated important loans without reference to the trustees.