This Thanksgiving, visit Jekyll Island’s historic setting. Dine on Jekyll Island fare and sample a Thanksgiving feast like that shared over a century ago by power brokers who helped shape a significant aspect of our nation’s history.
In November of 1910, Senator Nelson W. Aldrich and a party of financiers came to Jekyll Island to discuss and formulate banking reform, including plans for a form of central banking. Headed by Senator Aldrich, these financial leaders gathered on Jekyll Island and produced the Aldrich Plan, which became a forerunner of today’s Federal Reserve System.
The country had recently faced economic collapse with the Panic of 1907. The group needed to resolve America’s financial turmoil and create stability. The financiers worked “morning noon and night” on a proposed bill for banking reform. Yet the island’s simple pleasures could not be ignored entirely.
Frank A. Vanderlip, President of National City Bank, greatly admired the “fantastic beards of Spanish moss” on the live oaks and found the November forest foliage “utterly charming.” Henry P. Davison, a partner of J.P. Morgan & Co., and Benjamin Strong, Vice President of The Banker’s Trust of New York, rode horses at daybreak and swam before breakfast. The group also spent a day duck hunting in what was, at the time, Jekyll Island’s legendary hunting preserve.
The fine table set at the Clubhouse that Thanksgiving was a particular highlight of the trip. Vanderlip remembered, “Deer, turkey and quail appeared on the table; there were pans of oysters not an hour old when they were scalloped; there were country hams with that incomparable flavor that is given to them in the South. We were working so hard that we ate enormously. Thanksgiving occurred during that week and we ate wild turkey with oyster stuffing and went right back to work.”
A draft of the Aldrich Plan was completed on Jekyll Island. It called for the creation of a central bank, able to make emergency loans to member banks and print money. The Aldrich Plan served as one of various proposals which eventually led to the Federal Reserve Act, establishing America’s present-day banking system, which was signed into law on December 23, 1913.
To learn about the many influential figures who visited Jekyll Island in seasons past, visit the Jekyll Island Museum on Stable Road, 912-635-4036. Tours and exhibits are available daily.