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R.I. Exchange Bank, East Greenwich

The Rhode Island Exchange Bank was established in East Greenwich in 1852. James B. Pierce was its president and Daniel C. Kenyon its cashier. The institution barely lasted out the decade before Kenyon was exposed as an embezzler on a massive scale.

The Providence Journal of February 11, 1860 tells the story:

“The community were startled yesterday morning by the announcement that Daniel C. Kenyon, the Cashier of the Rhode Island Exchange Bank at East Greenwich, was a defaulter to that institution to a large amount, as well as to the East Greenwich Savings’ Bank, of which corporation he was treasurer. The discovery or the embezzlement was made by the Cashier of the Merchants’ Bank in this city. That bank had received information from New-York that the bills of the Exchange Bank had been hypothecated in Wall-street to raise funds.

“As there had been repeated charges against the bank, at the instance of the management of the Merchants’ Bank, the Cashier went down to East Greenwich on Thursday to satisfy himself of its actual condition. The first evidence of wrong was found in a discrepancy of a number of thousands of dollars in his account with the Merchants’ Bank. But as soon as an examination of the note account was made which disclosed a deficiency of some $25,000, concealment was no longer possible, and he confessed to Mr. Robbins that he was a defaulter. He also confessed that he had added to the crime of stealing the [?] greater crime of perjury. On the 6th [?], in the return he made to the State Auditor of the condition of the bank, he had sworn that the circulation was $19,268, when in fact it was $44,000. He also swore that the deposits were only $3,756, when they exceeded the sum of $12,000. The whole amount of his defalcation to the bank is about $72,000. The capital is only $60,000.

“But-holders will not be losers by the dishonesty of Kenyon. It the circulation is not greater than now believed, the assess of the Bank will pay it as well as the deposes. But of there should be a lack of assets, the stockholders, among whom are many men of large properly, are personally liable for the deficiency.

“Kenyon has also confessed that he has robbed the East Greenwich Savings Bank of $36,000, one half of the whole amount of is deposits. These deposits were the savings of the industrious poor in his neighborhood, and this faithlessness to a most sacred trust will bring upon him the execrations of many ready to perish.

“The large sum which he has embezzled — $108,000 — Kenyon alleges has been wholly lost in stock speculations. He commenced his stock gambling some years ago, and was at first successful, having made $10,000 in his early operations. His losses have been in Erie Railroad and in mining stocks. His dishonesty is the more surprising as he has always borne a most excellent character, and his style of living prudent and befitting his station. His aged father, Mr. George Kenyon, well known in Kent County, is his bondsman to the bank for $15,000. Mr. James B. Pierce, the President of the Exchange Bank, is his bondsman to the Savings Bank in the sum of $10,000.

“Gov. Turner yesterday appointed Shubael Hutchins and Henry Anthony, of this city, commissioners to make an examination of the affairs of the bank. They will at once report its condition to the Supreme Court, when an injunction will undoubtedly be issued, and a receiver be appointed to wind up its affairs.”

It is believed that the central vignette on the first three notes below is an early view of East Greenwich harbor. The notes are signed by Kenyon and Pierce.








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