Sec.8. The bills of banks pass as money. A bank bill or note is a promise of the bank to pay the bearer a certain sum on demand, signed by the president and cashier. It passes as money, because the bank is bound to pay it in specie if it is demanded. Paying notes thus is redeeming them. When a bank is unable to redeem all its bills, it is said to have failed, or to be broken; and the bill holders suffer loss, unless some security has been provided. This has been done in some states by making the stockholders individually liable for the redemption of the bills; that is, the property owned by them as individuals may be taken and sold on execution for that purpose. Such security, however, has never been generally provided.
Sec.9. But a system of banking, sometimes called free banking, has more recently been adopted in some states. It is so called, because the business of banking is thrown open to all by a general law. Any person, or any number of persons, may, by complying with the provisions of this general law, establish a bank without a special law for this purpose. Hence it is also called the general banking system.
Sec.10. Persons, before commencing business under this law, must put into the hands of the proper state officers ample securities for the redemption of their bills; and they may not issue bills to a greater amount than the amount of their securities. These securities must consist of approved state stocks, or United States stocks, or partly of public stocks, and partly of real estate. When a bank fails, the lands and stocks held in pledge by the state are sold, and the avails are applied to the redemption of the bills. This system of banking seems to be growing into public favor.
Sec.11. Insurance companies also are authorized by law. Their business is to insure persons against loss by fire. The corporators, on being paid a small sum, consisting generally of a certain percentage on the amount for which the property is insured, promise to pay such amount if the property shall be destroyed by fire. There are companies also for insuring vessels at sea; and life insurance companies, that agree to pay, in case of the death of the person insured, a certain sum for the benefit of his family, or of some other person named in the policy. The word policy as here used, means the writing containing the terms or conditions on which the company agrees to indemnify the person insured in case of loss. The money paid to obtain insurance, is called premium.
Sec.12. The profits of the stockholders consist of the excess of money received for premiums over the amount paid out for losses. Thus, if a company has issued 2,000 policies, each covering property of an average amount of $1,000, the amount of risk is $2,000,000; and if the rate of insurance is one per cent., the amount received in premiums is $20,000. Hence, if none of the 2,000 buildings is burned within the time the insurance is to run, the $20,000 are gained. If ten of them should be burned, there would still be a gain of $10,000. If twenty should be destroyed, there would be no gain, but an actual loss to the amount of the expenses of the concern.