Despite initial reservations, George Washington eventually came to endorse the idea of a federal bank and played a leading role in its establishment. As with the Federalists, he recognized that the country needed a central financial institution that would enable it to pay the enormous debts accrued during the Revolutionary War. This would send out a message to the rest of the world that the United States was serious about how it conducted its financial affairs, and was now the equal of any nation.
Washington also understood that a new federal bank would be vital in loaning funds to businesses, helping them to grow and invest. This was an essential component of the Federalist vision which saw the United States as a trading, commercial nation rather than one dependent on agriculture. Not surprisingly, therefore, the establishment of the First National Bank proved immensely controversial, with the administration's Republican opponents claiming that it would invest too much power in the central government and blatantly promote the economic interests of banking, finance, and commerce at the expense of agriculture.