Interstate banking is pretty much a reality for most of the county already, and a new federal law will have only modest impact on the industry landscape.

Populist distrust of centralized financial power has been characteristic of American democracy from the very beginning. Early in George Washington's presidency, Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson fought bitterly over creation of a central bank to manage the fledging republic's money and credit: Hamilton favored the idea, Jefferson did not. When Aaron Burr--vice president in Jefferson's subsequent administration--killed Hamilton in a duel in 1804, the competing perspectives of agrarianism versus urban moneyed interests was a factor in their animus towards one another. "Burr won the duel," says Wachovia Corp. Chairman John Medlin. "The people have been waging the battle ever since."

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