History of Our Firm

JPMorgan Chase & Co. is one of the world's oldest, largest and best-known financial institutions.

The firm is built on the foundation of more than 1,200 predecessor institutions that have come together through the years to form today's company. 


We trace our roots to 1799 in New York City, and our many well-known heritage firms include J.P. Morgan & Co., The Chase Manhattan Bank, Bank One, Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co., Chemical Bank, The First National Bank of Chicago, National Bank of Detroit, The Bear Stearns Companies Inc., Robert Fleming Holdings, Cazenove Group and the business acquired in the WaMu transaction. Each of these firms, in its time, was closely tied to innovations in finance and the growth of the U.S. and global economies.

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The Early Years of State Banking

Pipes made from hollowed pine logs (actual cross-sections of which are shown here) carried the water delivered by The Manhattan Company.

First Predecessor Chartered

At the end of the eighteenth century, New York City's 56,000 residents lacked a central water supply. To combat this problem, The Manhattan Company, JPMorgan Chase's earliest predecessor institution, is chartered by the New York State Legislature to supply “pure and wholesome” water to the city's growing population. The waterworks lay a network of pipes made from hollowed pine logs, and six miles of pipes were laid in its first year of operation.

Conflict between Political Rivals

Among The Manhattan Company's founders are leading statesmen and political rivals Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Hamilton, a founder of the Bank of New York, the only state-chartered bank in Manhattan at the time, strongly opposes Burr's inclusion of a provision within the charter which allows The Manhattan Company to use any of its capital stock not required in the water business “in the purchase of public stock or in any other monied transactions or operations not inconsistent with the Constitution and laws of the United States.” This clause indirectly permits banking operations and helps pave the way for the creation of a new bank, creating direct competition with Hamilton's own bank. When the charter is approved, Hamilton immediately severs his association with the water company.

This advertisement announcing the bank’s business hours appeared in October 1799 in the Mercantile Advisor, a New York newspaper.

The Bank of the Manhattan Company Opens

In September, The Bank of The Manhattan Company opens for business and becomes the second state-chartered commercial bank established in New York City. The creation of this bank, made possible by The Manhattan Company’s unique charter, breaks Alexander Hamilton’s banking monopoly in New York City.

The Burr-Hamilton Duel

In their now infamous duel, Manhattan Company founder Aaron Burr shoots and kills his personal and political adversary, Alexander Hamilton. Longstanding antagonism between the two men, based largely on political and personal differences, had prompted Burr to challenge Hamilton to a duel. The two men meet at dawn on July 11th in Weehawken, New Jersey, across the Hudson River from New York City where dueling was already illegal. Hamilton is mortally wounded when the bullet tears into his abdomen and he dies the next morning. The nation so mourns the loss of Hamilton that Burr is forced into hiding for his own safety.

The dueling pistols, originally belonging to Alexander Hamilton’s brother-in-law John Church, were purchased from the Church family by The Bank of The Manhattan Company in 1930.
The Chemical Bank sold its chemical manufacturing company in 1851. The bank used this engraving of its factory—located in what is now Midtown Manhattan—on stock certificates in the 1950s.


Chemical Bank's Earliest Predecessor, New York Chemical Manufacturing Company, Opens

A group of New York City merchants incorporates the New York Chemical Manufacturing Company to produce chemicals, medicines, paints, and dyes. This firm is the earliest predecessor in Chemical Bank's family tree. One year later, the company's directors secure the legislation needed to amend the original charter, enabling the company to establish The Chemical Bank, which officially opens for business in 1824. Chemical Bank merges with Chase in 1996.

The Manhattan Company Ceases Water Operations

The Manhattan Company ceases operation when New York City establishes a municipal water supply. Though the waterworks operations shuttered, The Bank of The Manhattan Company continues its financial operations and the bank's logo since its founding, the water god Oceanus, pays homage to its early origins as a water company.

Lincoln remained a customer throughout his presidency. The ledger with his account resides in the firm’s historical collection.

Springfield Marine and Fire Insurance Company Opens in Illinois

The firm's oldest predecessor in Illinois opens in Springfield to insure shipping vessels and goods, as well as to provide a variety of banking services. In 1853, Springfield’s most famous resident, Abraham Lincoln opens a bank account with an initial deposit of $310.


The Bank of The Manhattan Company Funds the Erie Canal

The Bank of The Manhattan Company makes an emergency loan to New York State to cover interest on Erie Canal bonds when the State Legislature neglects to allocate funds to repay its bondholders. Since work on the canal began in 1817, The Bank of The Manhattan Company had been a key lender on the construction of the Erie Canal, and had money in both loans and bonds for the project.


National Banks and the Age of Industry

This 1874 Drexel, Morgan & Co, ad from Bankers Almanac highlighted the firm’s offices in New York, London, Paris, and Philadelphia.

Drexel, Morgan & Co. is Founded in New York

J. Pierpont Morgan, Sr. and Philadelphia banker, Anthony Drexel, form a private merchant banking partnership in New York called Drexel, Morgan & Co.

Chase National Bank is Founded

New York banker John Thompson founds Chase National Bank. Thompson names the new bank in honor of his friend, Salmon P. Chase, former Secretary of the Treasury under Abraham Lincoln and architect of the National Banking System.

In 1878, Chase moved to 104 Broadway in New York after operating in a one-room office during the preceding year. Chase was the first bank in the city to choose a location other than Wall Street.

Consolidating the Railroads

Drexel, Morgan & Co. finances the completion of the Northern Pacific Railroad, called at the time “the largest transaction in railroad bonds ever made in the United States.” This railroad deal was one of many in the late 19th century that helped to restructure the ailing American railroad industry.

Financing Illuminating Ideas

The Drexel, Morgan building at 23 Wall Street is the first office building in New York City to draw power from the Edison Electric Illuminating Company's newly built electric generating station. Thomas Edison personally turns on the building's lights. Drexel, Morgan had become the banker for the Edison Electric Light Company in 1878. J. Pierpont Morgan's mansion on Madison Avenue is also the first private home in New York City to be completely fitted with incandescent lights in the autumn of 1882.

Financing the Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the world, opens. The Brooklyn Trust Company, a JPMorgan Chase predecessor, is responsible for most of the nearly $15 million needed to finance its construction.

Financing the Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty is dedicated in New York Harbor. William L. Strong, the founder of the New York Security and Trust Company, a JPMorgan Chase predecessor, had been active in the fundraising campaign for the construction of the pedestal for the mammoth statue. While the people of France had given the statue as a gift, the United States had taken on financial responsibility for the construction of the pedestal.

The Rise of J.P. Morgan & Co.

J. Pierpont Morgan consolidates and reorganizes his family's private banking interests, assuming the role of senior partner in the four related Morgan firms in New York, Philadelphia, London, and Paris. The New York firm is renamed J.P. Morgan & Co.

Creating the First Billion-Dollar Company

J.P. Morgan & Co. buys out industrialist Andrew Carnegie and combines some 33 companies to create United States Steel, the world's first billion-dollar corporation. When it was formed, U.S. Steel controlled nearly half of the country’s steel-making capacity.

This stock certificate for 100 shares of U.S. Steel was issued to J. Pierpont Morgan and is signed by U.S. Steel’s first president, Charles M. Schwab.
The 47-mile-long Panama Canal was one of the largest engineering projects ever undertaken. The check (right) facilitated the transfer of funds from the United States government to the French government (via Morgan) for canal land rights.

Financing the Panama Canal

J.P. Morgan & Co. is appointed as fiscal agent for the newly independent Republic of Panama in 1903, and in the subsequent year is selected by the U.S. Treasury Secretary to arrange the transfer of $40 million from the U.S. government to the canal’s previous holder, the French Panama Canal Company. This is the largest real estate deal at that time.

The Financial Panic of 1907

In the fall of 1907, the world is on the verge of economic collapse. As panic increased several American banks failed, prompting runs on several others. J. Pierpont Morgan steps in. Morgan saves several trust companies and a leading brokerage house from insolvency, bails out New York City, and rescues the New York Stock Exchange. For two weeks, Morgan holds the banks together until public confidence is restored.

During the Panic, worried depositors and investors gathered in the streets in New York’s financial district. The cities leading bankers turned to J. Pierpont Morgan to take charge. This caricature lauded Morgan for his leadership during the Panic.
The funeral procession of J. Pierpont Morgan attracted large crowds in New York City.

J. Pierpont Morgan, Sr. Dies

J. Pierpont Morgan, Sr. dies. On the morning of his funeral in New York, the New York Stock Exchange closes until noon, an honor generally reserved for heads of state. His son, J.P. Morgan, Jr. becomes senior partner of J.P. Morgan & Co.


World Wars, Depression and International Expansion


Anglo-French War Loan

Before the United States enters World War I, J.P. Morgan & Co. aids the British and French governments, arranging a $500 million loan that was offered to investors in the United States - the largest foreign loan in Wall Street history at the time.

Historic Trans-Atlantic Flight

Charles A. Lindbergh makes the first solo, nonstop transatlantic flight in his plane, “Spirit of St. Louis.” J.P. Morgan & Co. partners help finance part of Lindbergh’s historic flight from New York to Paris.


The Birth of The National Bank of Detroit

The National Bank of Detroit is formed at the very depths of the Great Depression. After Michigan's governor declares an eight-day bank holiday in February 1933, Detroit's two largest banks lack the funds to reopen, leaving the city virtually without banking services for the next six weeks. General Motors Corporation and the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, the federal government agency that provided emergency financing to banks, steps into this void to establish National Bank of Detroit. On March 24, 1933, customers clamor at the new National Bank of Detroit to open 562 accounts on the bank's opening day. The bank is the firm’s first presence in Detroit.

Supporting the War Effort at Home and Abroad

Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor and America's subsequent entry in the conflict in Europe and Asia, our predecessor banks make large contributions supporting the war effort, both abroad and at home. As hundreds of male employees enlist, many of our predecessors rehire retirees and install women to positions previously held by men. In addition, many former and current senior officers take leaves to serve the nation in key positions in the Roosevelt Administration and in agencies such as the American Red Cross. Our predecessors also become important buyers and promoters of Treasury securities, sponsoring bond drives and promoting war bonds at branches.


Bank Consolidation and Innovation

Birth of Chase Manhattan Bank

Chase National Bank merges with The Bank of The Manhattan Company to form Chase Manhattan Bank. The new institution combines Chase National's strength in international, corporate, and correspondent banking with The Bank of The Manhattan Company's branches and retail banking strengths.

Chase Introduces the Retail Credit Card

Chase Manhattan becomes the first New York City bank to offer customers a retail charge account. Originally called the Chase Manhattan Charge Plan, the card is soon renamed Uni-Card. By 1969, the Chase Manhattan Charge plan becomes the leading provider of bank credit cards in the New York area.

Chase Manhattan Introduces the Octagon Logo

In 1959 the design firm of Chermayeff & Geismar is selected to design a contemporary new logo for the Chase Manhattan Bank. The Octagon is one of the earliest abstract corporate logos, influencing the widespread adoption of abstract corporate identities since its introduction in 1960, and continues to be a significant element of the Chase brand.

Pioneering the ATM

Chemical Bank installs the first cash dispensing machine, the precursor to the ATM, in a Rockville Center branch on Long Island. The first in the United states, this machine inaugurates 24-hour banking in the New York metropolitan area.

David Rockefeller (left) with Chinese Prime Minister Chou En-lai (right) in 1973.

Forging International Relations

Chase Manhattan Bank Chairman David Rockefeller visits China and meets with Chinese Prime Minister Chou En-Lai. As a result of this trip, Chase Becomes the first U.S. correspondent to the Bank of China since the 1949 Chinese Revolution. Chase also opens a representative office in Moscow the same year – the first Russian presence of an American bank since the 1920s.


Interstate Banking Meets the Computer Age

Home Banking is Available with Channel 2000

Bank One develops and tests an early version of home banking called Channel 2000, which allows bank customers to view their bank and department store balances on a television screen, pay bills and shift money among accounts. The service worked over regular telephone lines; the Internet, which is used today for home banking, was not commercialized until 1987. Bank One merges with JPMorgan Chase & Co. in 2004.

Chase Manhattan Merges into Chemical Banking Corporation

Chase Manhattan Corporation merges into Chemical Banking Corporation in one of the largest consolidations in U.S. banking history, forming what was then the largest bank holding company in the United States.


The Rise of JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Douglas A. Warner III (left), former CEO of J.P. Morgan & Co., with William B. Harrison, Jr. (right), former CEO of The Chase Manhattan Corp. in 2000.

J.P. Morgan & Co. Merges with Chase Manhattan

J.P. Morgan & Co. Incorporated merges with Chase Manhattan Corporation, effectively combining four of the largest and oldest money center banking institutions in New York City (J.P. Morgan, Chase, Chemical and Manufacturers Hanover) into one firm under the name of JPMorgan Chase & Co.

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. Merges with Bank One

JPMorgan Chase & Co. merges with Bank One Corporation. The merger enlarged JPMorgan Chase’s retail presence to 17 states across the United States.

Jamie Dimon (left), former CEO of Bank One and current CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co., with William B. Harrison, Jr. (right), former CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co. in 2004.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. Acquires Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual

JPMorgan Chase & Co. acquires The Bear Stearns Companies Inc. and certain deposits and assets of Seattle-based savings and loan company, Washington Mutual. The acquisition expands JPMorgan Chase’s retail presence from coast to coast.

Supporting Military Veterans and Spouses

JPMorgan Chase & Co. joins the 100,000 Jobs Mission, which brings together companies committed to hiring U.S. military veterans and military spouses.

Funding the Revitalization of Detroit’s Economy

JPMorgan Chase & Co. pledges $100 million over five years to support, accelerate and scale some of the most innovative efforts underway to transform Detroit’s economy.

Establishing the JPMorgan Chase Institute

JPMorgan Chase Institute is established as a global think tank dedicated to delivering data-rich analyses and expert insights for the public good by helping decision makers appreciate the scale, granularity, diversity, and interconnectedness of the global economic system and use better facts, real-time data and thoughtful analysis to make smarter decisions to advance global prosperity.