JP Morgan Chase is one of the oldest, biggest, and most well-known financial institutions in the world today.
Today, many financial experts and institutions follow signals which they see from JP Morgan Chase’s behavior when it comes to financial decisions. The history of the company goes back centuries, and it has played a significant role in the financial history of the US.
The history of JP Morgan Chase goes back to 1799, and the formation of the company involved numerous firms that merged together to create the modern financial superpower we all know. In 1799, New York Assemblyman Aaron Burr chartered the Manhattan Company, which would later merge with Chase bank. In 1804, disagreements between Burr’s new firm and Alexander Hamilton’s Bank of New York led to the famous duel that ended with the death of the first US Treasury secretary. JP Morgan Chase still has the two guns which were used in that duel.
While Chase bank was a part of the new firm since its founding (though the “Chase” in JP Morgan Chase was named after another person), the name “Morgan” would enter the picture decades later. In 1871, Morgan, who went by the name “Piermont” for most of his life, co-founded Morgan & Co. alongside Philadelphia banker Anthony Drexel. Drexel, Morgan & Co. was originally a brokerage for Europeans who wanted to invest in the US. In 1877, John Thompson, a financial news publisher and banker, established the Chase National Bank, named in honor of his friend Salmon P. Chase. In 1895, Drexel, Morgan & Co. was renamed J.P. Morgan & Co.
As the company grew, it became more involved in American public life. J.P. Morgan & Co. provided a $500 million loan for the allies during the first World War. While the company was already involved in the duel that killed America’s first treasury secretary, the most violent event the company faced was a bombing in 1920. On that year, an anarchist group planted a bomb in front of J.P. Morgan & Co. headquarters, killing 38 people and injuring another 400.
In 1955, Chase Bank merged with Burr’s Manhattan Company, forming Chase Manhattan Bank. From a period of time lasting 1961-1991, many regional banks were merging, which was the environment that brought J.P. Morgan closer to Chase Manhattan. Chase Manhattan was actually purchased by Chemical Bank in 1996, but it retained its old name because it was more widely recognized. It was in 2000 that Chase Manhattan purchased J.P. Morgan & Co. for $34 billion. Since then, the bank has made even more big-money moves, solidifying its position as a modern financial behemoth. The company has been wrapped up in some scandal in the modern day as well, as they were listed alongside 16 other banks in a 2011 federal suit over mortgage fraud allegations. JP Morgan Chase will likely continue to play a massive role in the modern financial world for the foreseeable future.