Levi Woodbury (1798-1851), formerly Secretary of the Navy, was appointed Secretary of the Treasury by President Jackson in 1834 and continued under Martin Van Buren. Woodbury had been an opponent of the Second Bank of the United States in the Senate and as Secretary he continued to oppose it. Like his predecessor, Acting Secretary Roger B. Taney, Woodbury refused to place government funds with the Second Bank, depositing them instead in commercial banks. The1830s was a period of general prosperity and by 1834 had paid off the national debt.
In 1836, when the treasury realized an unprecedented surplus, the money was turned over to the states in four installments. This extra money was a contributing factor to wild speculation and ar expansion of credit resulting in a panic in 1837. Consequently, Woodbury realized the need for a system which would enable the government to directly administer its own funds. In 1840 Congress passed an act establishing an ''independent Treasury System", where the Treasury Department, not commercial banks, was to manage the government's funds. Much of this law was repealed the next year but Woodbury had laid the groundwork for more permanent independent treasury system eventually established 1846. He also oversaw the construction of the New Treasury Building, begun by architect Robert Mills in 1836, after the Department's previous quarters had been destroyed by fire. Woodbury resigned at the end of Van Buren's term in 1841.
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