A Bit of Wall Street History

By | January 11, 2011

In 1792, in the month of March, 24 of New York City’s most prominent business leaders met in secret at Corre’s Hotel to try and come up with a solution to the problem of the disorder of the securities business and to take business away from the auctioneers who were their competitors. On May 17, just two months later, these same merchants signed what they called the Buttonwood Agreement, named for their secret meeting place under a Buttonwood tree. The document stipulated that the signatories to the agreement only trade securities among themselves. They also agreed to set their own trading fees, and to desist from taking part in other auctions of securities. This was the seed that blossomed into what became the New York Stock Exchange, which later moved to 11 Wall Street.

One hundred years before the Buttonwood Agreement was formulated and signed, the Dutch who had first settled the area of lower Manhattan had built a wall to protect themselves from the Indians, pirates and other dangers. The thoroughfare along the wall became a bustling commercial center, extending from the Hudson River in the West to the banks of the East River. The early merchants and businessmen built their warehouses along this wall, along with shops, a church and city hall. The first President of the United States, George Washington, was inaugurated on the steps of Federal Hall, which was located on Wall Street. The inauguration took place in New York due to the fact that New York was the capitol city of the United States for the five years from 1785 to 1780.


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