Born in Philadelphia on January 8, 1786, Biddle entered the University of Pennsylvania at the age of ten. Completing his studies there in three years, he continued his education at the College of New Jersey (Princeton), graduating in 1801. After studying law for three years, he became secretary to John Armstrong (minister to France) ; and then secretary to James Monroe (minister to Great Britain). In 1812, Biddle was appointed editor of the first American literary journal, Port Folio; and in 1814, he published two volumes of the famous History of the Expedition under the Command of Captains Lewis and Clark.
That same year, Biddle was elected to the state legislature; and in this role, he wrote Pennsylvania's negative reply to the Hartford Convention's call for constitutional amendments. He also compiled Commercial Regulations, a digest of international trade laws.
Biddle also showed himself to be a most capable banker. As president of the Second Bank of the United States (1823-36), he established soundcurrency and inexpensive commercial credit. However, he gained many enemies as a result of his conservative methods. Various groups rallied behind Andrew Jackson in 1828, against the Bank; and after Jackson's election, the Bank declined.
Two years after Biddle retired from the presidency in 1839, the Bank was forced into liquidation. Biddle died in Philadelphia on February 27, 1844.