New York, New York U. For years, American Express has continuously transformed itself to meet changing customer needs. What began as a rough-and-tumble freight forwarding company inlater became a travel company, and today, a leading global financial and travel services company. What remains constant are the hallmarks of the American Express brand--trust, integrity, security, quality and customer service.

In many ways, the history of our company and the evolution of the American Express brand over years have shaped the actions we take today. Our commitment to providing extraordinary service to our customers around the world is unwavering and now extends to the Internet. American Express Company, a multibillion-dollar holding company whose subsidiaries provide travel and financial services worldwide, traces its Dna Clothing Company to a New York express business founded by Henry Wells in From the safe transport of valuables it grew naturally into money orders and traveler's checks; from there its travel service operations, including its credit card services, also grew naturally.

Faced with intensifying competition and poor public relations in the early s, American Express divested itself from many of the businesses it had acquired American Express Company History the previous decade. Throughout its history, American Express has enjoyed a reputation for innovation, profitability, and integrity.

Henry Wells began his expressman career as an agent for William Harnden, who had founded the first express company in the United States in Express companies were in the business of transporting money and other valuables safely.

A few years later, Wells and William G. Fargo launched an express service from Buffalo to major Midwestern cities. Although appreciated by the Midwestern business community, the new express service simply did not pay. InWells decided to retrench and focus his energies on the growing routes serving New York City, Buffalo, Boston, and Albany, leaving the express business west of Buffalo to Fargo's company, Livingston, Fargo and Co.

Later that year, Butterfield proposed that he, Fargo, and Wells Us Pool Fence Company their wasteful competition by joining forces.

Wells was elected the new company's first president; Fargo became vice-president. Under Wells's leadership American Express was immediately and unexpectedly profitable, expanding rapidly and acquiring small competitors in the Midwest, negotiating contracts with the first railroads, and running packet boats on American Express Company History Illinois Canal to connect Ohio, Illinois, and Iowa with steamship lines on the Illinois River. InAmerican Express reached an amicable agreement with its major rival, Adams and Co.

American Express was to expand north and west of New York while Adams was free to grow south and east. This agreement was kept and renewed over the next 70 years, buying American Express time to establish its business solidly. Despite the agreement with Adams and Co. When Wells proposed his old dream of a transcontinental express service to the American Express board of directors, they rejected his idea. Drew was determined to award the express rights to others. In response, American Express created an affiliate and presented it as a bona fide competitor.

American Express loaned the funds to start a new company to Danforth Barney, then president of Wells Fargo. Barney's new company, United States Express Co. American Express's first decade saw two other noteworthy accomplishments. The Overland Mail Co. Also, James C.

Fargo, William's younger brother, proposed the establishment of a fast, bulk freight express service for merchants. Merchants Dispatch, created inproved immediately successful. The Civil War was enormously profitable for American Express, as it was for the express industry generally. American Express shipped supplies to army depots, took election ballots to soldiers, and delivered parcels to parts of the Confederacy taken by Union forces.

During this period, American Express distributed huge dividends to its shareholders. After the war, the express industry attracted the attention of financial raiders. The first raid, by National Bankers Express Co. American Express quickly reached an agreement with Adams Express and United States Express to neutralize the threat by giving National Bankers Express shares of the established companies and a seat on the American Express board of directors.

Merchants Union first hired away the older companies' experienced agents American Express Company History then invaded their territories. American Express suffered such losses in that for the first and only time in its history it failed to pay a dividend. On December 21,the four express companies reached a peace agreement, dividing the express and fast-freight business and pooling and distributing net earnings.

American Express got the worst of the deal; Merchants Union acquired rights on railways that had been its bread-and-butter lines the Hudson River and New York Central railroads and lost its supremacy in the express business. Also in Wells retired and was replaced as president by William G. Fargo's tenure saw the beginning of two trends that would later prove significant. Second, high express rates set after the Panic of created public demand for a government operated parcel post. Inthe U.

Postal Service American Express Company History to deliver packages at a new, low rate. The following year, Congress set the parcel rate at a half-cent per ounce, far below cost. This cut deeply into express company profits. William Fargo's death in and James's succession to the presidency began a new era for American Express.

Although James Fargo was often described as autocratic, aloof, and old-fashioned, he was also remarkably innovative. During his term of office, American Express first diversified into the financial services industry with the introduction of two instruments--the American Express Money Order in and the American Express Travelers Cheque in The post office first introduced the postal money order in This immediately threatened the express industry because it reduced the demand by Initech Company and merchants for the transport of money and other valuables.

The postal money order, however, had a serious flaw: its face value could be altered without detection. Although American Express directors had discussed introducing a money order since the end of the Civil War, it took James Fargo to galvanize the company into action. At his direction Marcellus Berry, an American Express employee, designed a safer money order. Not only did the money order provide a new source of revenue overwere issued the first yearbut for the first time American Express had a credit balance or 'float'--funds from instruments that had been paid for but were not yet cashed that could be American Express Company History invested to bring in additional income.

The traveler's check filled a similar financial niche. Beforetourists and business travelers could transfer funds from the United States to Europe only via a letter of credit, a time-consuming and cumbersome method: only specified correspondents of the issuing United States bank could negotiate letters of credit, and then only during banking hours and after an appreciable Partake Brewing Company. Fargo, annoyed by his own experience with the procedure, again directed Marcellus Berry to find a solution.

The American Express Travelers Cheque was a marked improvement over the letter of credit in several respects: its simple signature and countersignature provision made the instrument very secure; it could easily be converted into foreign currency at any American Express freight office; and, if lost or stolen, American Express would refund the owner's money.

The value and convenience of the traveler's check was recognized at once, and its popularity again provided American Express with additional revenues and float. American Express officers saw the opportunities offered by the travel industry and urged diversification in that direction.

James Fargo, however, was absolutely opposed to the idea. He allowed American Express agents to offer travel information purely as a service to customers, but drew the line there. After the turn of the century, the express industry came under American Express Company History from a number of quarters. Also inlong-overdue government regulation of the express industry began with passage of the Mann-Elkins Act, which made express companies common carriers subject to the scrutiny of the Interstate Commerce Commission ICC.

InNew York express company drivers and their helpers went on strike for higher wages and fewer working hours they were underpaid and overworked, even in an era of low pay and long hoursexciting highly unfavorable press and public reaction.

Post Office again expanded parcel delivery services at reduced rates, while the ICC set express rates that the industry feared were prohibitively low. When George C. Taylor, a longtime American Express employee, was elected the company's fourth president after Fargo's retirement inthe end of the laissez-faire express industry Zeeba Rice Company in sight.

Taylor's first actions, to expand foreign remittance operations and to officially inaugurate travel services by opening a travel department insaved the company when its domestic express division was nationalized in and became part of the American Railway Express Co. Another of Taylor's accomplishments was to establish the American Express Co. This wholly owned subsidiary was created in primarily to expand international banking operations which had been conducted sporadically through foreign remittance offices since Although American Express was slow to gain a foothold in Europe, its international banking operations flourished in Asia during the s and s, especially in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

In the late s, American Express again changed hands. In Albert H. By July, Wiggin had acquired two seats on the board and 42 percent of the stock, at a bargain price. InChase Securities Corp. John D.

Rockefeller supplanted Wiggin as largest shareholder and Winthrop W. Aldrich, Rockefeller's brother-in-law, became chairman of both the Chase Securities and the American Express boards. This was a difficult time for American Express management, headed by Frederick P. Small who became president on Taylor's death in Not only were the directors preoccupied with their power struggles, but the financial climate was steadily worsening.

Then the Great Depression hit. Between androughly a third of all American banks failed. In earlyPresident Franklin D. Roosevelt announced a national bank holiday to allow banks to recover from the panic. The bank holiday brought commerce to a virtual standstill.

In Ralph T. Reed replaced Small as president. Under Old Gas Company Logos management, the late s and the s were a period of expansion, primarily Olomomo Nut Company the booming travel industry. Within seven years the number of American Express offices increased by percent and international operations surpassed their prewar level.

When Diners Club introduced the first credit card in the mids, American Express executives proposed investigating this Preferred Fragrance Company line of business.

Reed, who thought the company should improve existing business and feared a credit card would threaten its traveler's check business, opposed the proposal. InReed reversed himself and the American Express travel-and-entertainment card the American Express green card was introduced virtually overnight.

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