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Prior to 1875 financial institutions of the State were, as a rule, created by special charters granted by the Legislature. The Constitution, as amended in 1875, prohibited the granting of special charters and prescribed that the Legislature should enact general laws for the organization of corporations.

From 1875 to 1898 the laws relating to state banks underwent no radical or violent changes.

With regard to trust companies the same statement could not be made with equal accuracy. Prior to 1885 there were no general acts providing for the incorporation of trust and safe deposit companies, and, therefore, from 1875 to 1885 many corporations sought trust company powers under the general corporation act.

In 1885 an act for the incorporation of safe deposit and trust companies was passed, and from 1885 to 1890 various supplemental laws were enacted conferring large and important financial powers on such institutions.

In 1889 (P. L. 1889, p. 368), and 1890 (P. L. 1890, p. 427) acts were passed placing these institutions under the supervision of the Board of Bank Commissioners, and placing certain restrictions upon them. And in 1891 the Department of Banking and Insurance was established (P. L. 1891, p. 3), upon which department was conferred all the powers theretofore vested in the Board of Bank Commissioners.

Meanwhile many of the trust companies had been exercising what were practically banking powers. Trust companies doing business in any city or village where there was no national or state bank were authorized to transact

a banking business (P. L. 1888, p. 19; P. L. 1894, p, 152), and by a later act trust companies doing business in cities of the first class, distant not less than two miles from any national or state bank, were given general banking powers (P. L. 1896, p. 348). Thus it happened that some trust companies were given special authority to do a banking business, while others had not the same plain legislative sanction for the discounting of notes and similar business. Moreover, some of the trust companies created by special act had been expressly given banking powers in their charters.

However, in 1898, when the Commission was appointed by the Governor, practically all of the trust companies either actually transacted a banking business in the way of discounting notes or assumed that they had this power.

It could therefore be said with accuracy that in 1898 the distinction between a state bank and a trust company, so far as their powers were concerned, was more academical than otherwise. Trust companies were carrying on the business of state banks, and some banks were carrying on the business of safe deposit companies, and, while the power of the majority of trust companies to discount paper was not conceded by the Department of Banking and Insurance, yet the law was not so clear that the department saw fit to use drastic measures to compel them to stop.

After conferences with the Department of Banking and Insurance and with the representatives of the various financial institutions of the State, it seemed to the Commissioners unwise to attempt to restrict the rights and powers legally exercised by the trust companies. Care was taken, therefore, to preserve all the rights, powers and privileges legally enjoyed by existing financial institutions at the time when the new laws should take effect. The existence of the powers theretofore granted by law to all trust companies, whether organized by special charter, or under the general corporation law of the State, or under the act for the organization of safe deposit and trust companies of 1885, was expressly recognized (Section 6, pp. 32–3), and the repealing act as well provided (p. 60, Section 8), that

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