Drexel & Co.
Timeline of Key Events
1837. Francis M. Drexel opens a currency brokerage in Louisville, Kentucky.
1838. Francis M. Drexel opens a currency office in Philadelphia's financial district.
Early 1840s. The branch Drexel & Smith opens in Chicago.
1847. A turning point for Drexel & Co. Anthony and Francis are made partners at their father's brokerage house. Drexel & Co. helps the U.S. government finance the Mexican War through the sale of Treasury bonds.
1850-1855. Anthony J. Drexel assumes a head leadership role in Drexel & Co.
May 1851. Francis M. Drexel establishes a branch office called Drexel, Sather & Church in San Francisco, California. The partnership lasts until 1857.
1854. A new Drexel & Co. building, designed by Gustavus Runge, opens at 22 S. 3rd Street in Philadelphia, blocks from where Francis opened his brokerage house fourteen years before.
Late 1854. Drexel & Co. becomes a representative of George Peabody & Co., a London banking house, and the partners are introduced to Peabody's junior partner, Junius Spencer Morgan.
1855. Drexel & Co. come to New York, joining an established Wall Street house that became VanVleck, Read, Drexel & Co.
1857. Francis M. Drexel closes his partnership in San Francisco, just months ahead of the Panic of 1857 financial crash.
1861. In partnership with Jay Cooke's firm, Drexel & Co. begins the new practice of purchasing Treasury bonds from the federal government and selling the bonds to ordinary citizens. Jay Cooke's salesmanship, which relied on patriotic feeling in the Union as the Army was suffering losses, was bolstered by the stability of Drexel & Co. The partnership continued until 1864, at which point the total from bond sales was near $511 million. The incredible success of bond sales sustained the Union's ability to fund its military during the Civil War.
June 5, 1863. Founder Francis Martin Drexel dies at home in Philadelphia following a traincar accident.
July 1863. Drexel & Co. partners close the Chicago branch and dissolve their partnership with Read in New York. The same month they establish a new branch in New York, Drexel, Winthrop & Co.
Late 1860s. Drexel & Co. becomes heavily involved in financing the railroad industry through clients Pennsylvania Railroad, Lehigh Coal & Navigation Co. and the North Missouri Railroad.
Late 1867. Under Anthony's direction, Joseph W. Drexel travels to Paris to open the new partner branch Drexel, Harjes & Co. The branch is run by Eugene Winthrop and John H. Harjes, a long-time business partner of Anthony.
February 1871. J. Pierpont Morgan agrees to become the head of Drexel & Co.'s New York firm, which would be renamed as Drexel, Morgan, & Co. The branch opens in July. As J. Pierpont gains notoriety for his business dealings, Anthony Drexel is his constant counsel and mentor.
January 1, 1876. Joseph W. Drexel retires from his position as a Drexel & Co. partner under J.P. Morgan at the New York firm, cutting ties with Morgan and Drexel's two brothers.
1870s-1880s. Drexel and Morgan add twelve partners, chosen from vetted family and business partners. The Drexels are a rare business where employees are given raises and slowly promoted to positions of leadership, including share of profits and/or partnership. For instance, Edward T. Stotesbury rose from an entry clerk of seventeen in 1866 to become a partner in 1882.
February 15, 1885. Francis A. Drexel dies in Philadelphia.
1885. Construction begins on a new Drexel & Co. office at the southeast corner of Fifth and Chestnut in Philadelphia. By 1888, a second Drexel Building was established on the same block in 1888. The building was the tallest in the city at the time at eleven stories, and essentially forced the movement of the third street financial district into this block.
April 24, 1889. Drexel, Morgan, & Co. helps merge several companies dealing with electricity into Edison General Electric Company.
June 30, 1893. Anthony J. Drexel dies in Carlsbad (also Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic) in the midst of the Panic of 1893.
Late 1894. J. Pierpont Morgan gathers all of the partners of the New York and Philadelphia banking houses in New York, and shares his plan for reorganization. The two houses are combined, based out of New York, and renamed J.P. Morgan & Co. The Paris branch became Morgan, Harjes & Co. Only the Philadelphia branch retains the Drexel name.
1908. The last remaining Drexel family member to serve as a partner at Drexel & Co., Anthony J. Drexel's son-in-law James W. Paul, Jr., dies in Philadelphia.
1925-1927. A new Drexel and Company building designed by Day and Klauder, architects, in an Italian Renaissance palazzo manner, is constructed at 43 S. 15th Street in Philadelphia. Drexel & Co. occupies the building until 1943.
1940. Drexel partners and associates establish an investment bank, assuming the Drexel & Co. name. The historic Drexel & Co. is entirely absorbed into J.P. Morgan & Co.
1965. The new Drexel & Co. merges with Harriman, Ripley and Company to become Drexel Harriman Ripley.
Early 1970s. Drexel Harriman Ripley sells a 25 percent stake to Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, and is renamed Drexel Firestone.
1973. Merges with Burnham to become Drexel Burnham & Company.
1976. Drexel Burnham & Co. merges with Lambert Brussels Witter and is renamed Drexel Burnham Lambert.
1990. After five years of decline, Drexel Burnham Lambert declares bankruptcy and is dissolved. From 1986 onward, two directors were charged with insider trading. The firm faced charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission and pled guilty to stock parking and manipulation.