4.1 Wildcat Banks
An almost amusing claim by some critics is that the Safety Society was a wildcat bank. It seems likely this claim is based on the expectation that most readers today don’t know what a wildcat bank was, and therefore will be unable to judge for themselves whether the claim is true.
It is wholly false, and easily demonstrated as such. A wildcat bank was an enterprise intended only for defrauding the public. The operators would open for business, accepting deposits of specie and issuing bank notes in return. They would print more notes, and use them to go out and buy whatever they liked. The problem was where they located the bank office. The location was somewhere in the middle of a forest, or in the mountains, or some other location very difficult to find. Only the wildcats went there.
Hmm.. let’s see what it really means:
Wiki article: “According to some sources, the term came from a bank in Michigan that issued private paper currency with the image of a wildcat.”
That’s not the same definition at all. Is wiki lying, or is FAIR wholesale making things up? No cited sources for FAIR, no quotes, nothing to back up this claim.
Because the bank office could not be found, no one could redeem the bank notes for specie. Once this was recognized, the bank notes quickly became worthless, and the operators of the bank disappeared with their goods and stolen specie.
The Safety Society office was down the street from the Kirtland Temple, a block from Joseph Smith’s house and across the street from Sidney Rigdon’s. If Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were trying to make the office impossible to find, they did a pretty poor job of it.
Were wildcat banks really about hiding the offices?
The traditional view of wildcat banks describes them as distributing nearly worthless currency backed by questionable security (such as mortgages and bonds).
Kinda like Bear Sterns or Lehman Brothers–poorly backed banks based on paper transactions like mortgages. And no, I didn’t just go edit the Wikipedia article just to make the church look bad.
TL;DR: Seriously, the FAIR article writer is hoping that people don’t know what “Wildcat banks” are in an attempt to confuse the issue.
Hey kettle, this is pot. You’re black!