Tuesday, September 13, 2011

History of American Express Company

Established in 1850 in New York, American Express Company was among the first and most successful express delivery businesses to arise during the rapid westward expansion of the United States.

The history of the American Express Company dates back to the 1830s. During that period, along with the growth in population and migration to America’s heartland, business expanded around the United States.

The U.S. Postal Service at the time was slow, expensive and nonexistent in many areas. Nothing larger than a letter-sized envelope could be sent by mail, and certainly nothing valuable, as a fair number of deliveries were lost or stolen en-route.

Early in 1850, negotiations were entered into by Wells & Co., Livingston & Fargo and Butterfield, Wasson & Co., for the consolidation of three into one grand line.

Two firms were then made of the three, viz.: ‘Wells, Butterfield & Co.,’ and ‘Livingston, Fargo & Co.,’ but comprised in a joint stock concern , under the style of ‘The American Express Company.’

It was founded in Buffalo, New York, as an express business and freight forwarding company. Henry Wells, was elected president of the new company.

American Express first established its headquarter was at the intersection of Jay Street and Hudson Street in the TriBeCa section of Manhattan.

In 1891, American Express invented the Travelers Cheque. It was invented by Marcellas Berry an employee of American Express.

Traveler's cheques established American Express as a truly international company. In 1914, at the outbreak of the First World War, American Express offices in Europe were among the few companies to honor the letters of credit (issued by various banks) held by Americans in Europe, despite other financial institutions having refused to assist these stranded travelers.

From the 1930s through the 1950s, American Express had dominated the traveler’s cheque business.

At the end of 1957 American Express decided to get into the card business, and by the launch date of October 1, 1958 public interest had become so significant that they actually issued 250,000 cards prior to the official launch date.

The company continued to grow from 1960 though the 1980s and became one of the best known financial services organizations in the world.
History of American Express Company

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