Richard L. Van Zandt was the second leader of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, serving as its governor from April 13, 1915, to January 15, 1922.
Van Zandt was born in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1871. After graduating from Fort Worth High School, he attended Texas A&M University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1890. Van Zandt also did postgraduate work in civil engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. After graduation he worked at Fort Worth National Bank until 1900, when he accepted a position in the Philippines working for the US Treasury. In 1904, he resigned from this post and became receiver of Farmer’s National Bank in Henrietta, Texas. From 1905 to 1914, he served as a national bank examiner in Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Arkansas. He then helped organize the Eleventh Federal Reserve District. Van Zandt served as deputy governor from 1914 to 1915.
Following the resignation of Oscar Wells, the Dallas Fed’s first governor, Van Zandt was elected governor of the Dallas Fed. As governor, Van Zandt played an important role in helping the Dallas Fed land its first permanent home, located at Commerce and Martin Streets, on October 30, 1915. At the time, the Reserve Bank had the distinction of being the first to own and occupy its own quarters. In later years, Van Zandt helped the bank move into a classical revival-style building at 400 South Akard St.
Serving as governor during World War I, Van Zandt’s time and energy were mostly spent working with the Treasury Department and other Reserve Banks to raise money for the war, which included the sale of Liberty Loan Bonds. As Dallas Fed member and nonmember banks were called upon to assist the government in its war-finance program, Van Zandt was made chairman of an executive committee of seventeen representative bankers and merchants whose purpose was to direct the Liberty Loan campaign.
Following the war, Van Zandt and the management of the bank focused their efforts on improving the condition of member banks in the Eleventh District. He served as governor for seven years before being narrowly defeated by B.A. McKinney for reelection in 1922.
Under Van Zandt’s leadership, the Dallas Fed’s El Paso and Houston branches were also established.
Van Zandt died in Fort Worth in 1940.
Written by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. See disclaimer.