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Wall Street

History of Wall Street

Home | Favorite Links | History of Wall Street | Stock Market Crash of 1929 | History of the Stock Ticker | Stock Market Crash of 1987 | Personal Narrative


In March, 1792, twenty-four of New York City's leading merchants met secretly at Corre's Hotel to discuss ways to bring order to the securities business and to wrest it from their competitors, the auctioneers. Two months later, on May 17, 1792, these merchants signed a document named the Buttonwood Agreement, named after their traditional meeting place, a buttonwood tree. The agreement called for the signers to trade securities only among themselves, to set trading fees, and not to participate in other auctions of securities. These twenty-four men had founded what was to become the New York Stock Exchange. The Exchange would later be located at 11 Wall Street.

A century before, Dutch settlers had built a wall to protect themselves from Indians, priates, and other dangers. The path had become a bustling commercial thoroughfare because it joined the banks of the East River with those of the Hudson River on the west. The path was named Wall Street. Early merchants built their warehouses and shops on this path, along with a city hall and a church. New York was the U.S. national capitol from 1785 until 1790 and Federal Hall was built on Wall Street. George Washington was inaugurated on the steps of this building.

The first stock exchange in America was actually founded in Philadelphia in 1790. The New York merchant group, realizing that their stock exchange was now in decline after the early tumult of revolutionary war bonds and stock in the Bank of the United States, sent an observer to Philadelphia in early 1817. Upon his return, bearing news of the thriving Philadelphia exchange, the New York Stock and Exchange Board was formally organized on March 8, 1817.

The exchange rented a room at 40 Wall street and every morning the president, Anthony Stockholm, read the stocks to be traded. The exchange was an exclusive organization, new members were required to be voted in, and a candidate could be black-balled by three negative votes. In 1817 a seat on the exchange cost $25, in 1827 it increased to $100, and in 1848 the price was $400. Members wore top hats and swallowtail coats.

The early 1900s saw the rise of huge fortunes made on Wall Street. In 1901 J.P. Morgan astounded Wall Street by creating a billion dollar merger resulting in the U.S. Steel Corporation. In 1907 a wave of panic hit Wall Street. Eight hundred million dollars in securities were unloaded within a few months. Stock prices plummeted and runs on banks became a daily occurence. When the Knickerbocker Trust Company was forced to close its doors a panic swept banks throughout the country. Morgan pressured the leading New York bankers to forestall a total financial collapse of the country. They set up a single banking trust, with most large banks across the U.S. contributing to its financing. Morgan's own group, as you might imagine, had controlling interest.

the panic of 1929

The first of the two largest Wall Street panics occurred in 1929. The Wall Street con game, already working full tilt, had convinced millions of Americans that the country was riding on an upward spiraling wave of financial glory. Both rich and poor put their money into stocks and bonds. The Wall Street myth, broadcast by the Insiders' newspapers and magazines, spotlighted stories of shopkeepers and workers making fortunes in the stock market overnight.

Stock prices were pushed up beyond any relationship with the actual worth of the companies. In 1929 stock prices were 400% higher than they had been in 1924. The Insiders had made their fortunes and could no longer sustain the con, so on October 23, 1929, the market fell 31 points. Stock prices fell an additional 49 points on October 28 and on the 29th the entire market fell apart. Some brokers and investors jumped out of their office windows. The 1929 crash hit the U.S. even harder than the one that was to come in 1987. The fallout from the '29 crash devastated the country, leading to a long-time economic collapse and depression that was to continue until the start of the Second World War in 1941.

The Wall Street crash of 1987 - "Black Monday" - occurred on October 19th. The Dow Jones fell an astounding 508 points, largest one-day loss in the stock market's history. The Insiders running the con game landed on their feet and quickly misdirected the public's attention, laying the blame on computerized (program) trading. Though the cascade of sell orders from large institutions had clogged the system, leaving many individual investors stranded while prices fell, the '87 crash was created by the same Insider specialist group who control every facet of the stock market for their own profit.

As with so many elements of our American way of life, such as the federal and state governments, the stock market is an essential, positive ingredient in its essence, and has become deleterious only because certain rapacious people have taken control of it and twisted it to their purpose. The latest chapter in the Wall Street scam is the attempt by these same wealth-crazed people to try to convince American workers that they should put their retirement savings in the stock market. The pressure for this insanity is coming from the White House, Congress, the "Federal" Reserve, and anyone else for sale by these monetary rulers.

Patrick Baskin and Ryan Follmuth