The President, Directors and Company of the Bank of the United States, commonly known as the First Bank of the United States, was a national bank, chartered for a term of twenty years, by the United States Congress on February 25, 1791. It followed the Bank of North America, the nation's first de facto national bank. However, neither served the functions of a modern central bank: They did not set monetary policy, regulate private banks, hold their excess reserves, or act as a lender of last resort. They were national insofar as they were allowed to have branches in multiple states and lend money to the US government. Other banks in the US were each chartered by, and only allowed to have branches in, a single state.
Establishment of the Bank of the United States was part of a three-part expansion of federal fiscal and monetary power, along with a federal mint and excise taxes, championed by Alexander Hamilton, first Secretary of the Treasury. Hamilton believed a national bank was necessary to stabilize and improve the nation's credit, and to improve handling of the financial business of the United States government under the newly enacted Constitution.
The First Bank building, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, within Independence National Historical Park, was completed in 1797, and is a National Historic Landmark for its historic and architectural significance.