In 1837, as the Second Bank of the United States was winding down its operations, an economic panic struck that lasted until 1840. After the panic subsided, between 1840 and 1860, one source of economic data claims the US economy’s GDP grew by around 400%. Another source of economic data estimates that during that period the money supply increased 211% and the price level increased 60%, which would support the hypothesis that GDP expand around 400%. If those numbers are remotely accurate, that makes the Free Banking Era one of the most prosperous periods in US economic history. In comparison, GDP in the United Kingdom during the same time period increased 144%, meaning the US was growing more than twice as quickly as the UK. While this increase is certainly attributed to many factors including the political growth of the United States, industrialization, population increase, the exploitation of resources in a pristine environment, and the destitution of indigenous people, it’s still remarkable from an economic perspective. From a political perspective, the nation added seven states to the union during this time. This growth spurt ended as the United States was engulfed by the Civil War, and the Union needed a central bank to fund its war effort. This is when they began printing Greenbacks, which were “Legal Tender” whose value was imposed by the Federal Government. The US hasn’t stopped printing legal tender since.