After an epidemic of yellow fever in 1798, during which coffins had been sold by itinerant vendors on street corners, Aaron Burr established the Manhattan Company, with the ostensible aim of bringing clean water to the city from the Bronx River but in fact, designed as a front for the creation of New York's second bank, rivaling Alexander Hamilton's Bank of New York.
From September 1, 1799, to 1955, it was called The Bank of The Manhattan Company (New York); after a 1955 merger with the Chase National Bank (which existed separately from 1877 to 1954) it was called The Chase Manhattan Bank.
Chase traces its history back to the founding of The Manhattan Company by Aaron Burr on September 1, 1799, in a house at 40 Wall Street:
Chase National Bank was formed in 1877 by John Thompson. It was named after former United States Treasury Secretary and Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, although Chase did not have a connection with the bank.
The Chase National Bank acquired a number of smaller banks in the 1920s through its Chase Securities Corporation. In 1926, for instance, it acquired Mechanics and Metals National Bank.
Chase was primarily a wholesale bank, dealing with other prominent financial institutions and major corporate clients, such as General Electric, which had, through its RCA subsidiary, leased prominent space and become a crucial first tenant of Rockefeller Center, rescuing that major project in 1930. The bank is also closely associated with and has financed the oil industry, having longstanding connections with its board of directors to the successor companies of Standard Oil, especially ExxonMobil, which are also Rockefeller holdings.
However, its most significant acquisition was that of the Equitable Trust Company of New York in 1930, the largest stockholder of which was John D. Rockefeller, Jr. This made Chase the largest bank in the US and indeed, in the world.
These facts were discovered when the FBI began its investigation in October 1940. The purpose of the investigation was to follow German-Americans who had bought the Marks. However, Chase National Bank's executives were never federally prosecuted because Chase's lead attorney threatened to reveal FBI, Army, and Navy "sources and methods" in court. Publicly naming the sources and methods could have posed security risks and threatened future intelligence gathering. To avoid such revelations, the executives' violations of the Johnson Act, the Espionage Act, and the Foreign Agents Registration Act were never prosecuted.
Besides the controversial Rückwanderer Mark Scheme, NARA records also revealed another controversy during the occupation of France by the Nazis. From the late 1930s until June 14, 1941, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) issued an Executive Order freezing German assets, Chase National Bank worked with the Nazi government. The order blocking any access to French accounts in the U.S. by anyone, but especially by the Nazis was issued by Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Morgenthau Jr., with the approval of FDR. Within hours of the order, Chase unblocked the accounts and the funds were transferred through South America to Nazi Germany.
In 1955, Chase National Bank and The Manhattan Company merged to create the Chase Manhattan Bank. As Chase was a much larger bank, it was first intended that Chase acquire the "Bank of Manhattan", as it was nicknamed, but it transpired that Burr's original charter for the Manhattan Company had not only included the clause allowing it to start a bank with surplus funds, but another requiring unanimous consent of shareholders for the bank to be taken over. The deal was therefore structured as an acquisition by the Bank of the Manhattan Company of Chase National, with John J. McCloy becoming chairman of the merged entity. This avoided the need for unanimous consent by shareholders.
JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., doing business as Chase Bank or often as Chase, is an American national bank headquartered in Manhattan, New York City, that constitutes the consumer and commercial banking subsidiary of the U.S. multinational banking and financial services holding company, JPMorgan Chase. The bank was known as Chase Manhattan Bank until it merged with J.P. Morgan & Co. in 2000. Chase Manhattan Bank was formed by the merger of the Chase National Bank and the Manhattan Company in 1955. The bank merged with Bank One Corporation in 2004 and later acquired the deposits and most assets of Washington Mutual.
For Chase Manhattan Bank's new logo, Chermayeff & Geismar designed a stylized octagon in 1961, which remains part of the bank's logo today. It has been reported that the Chase logo was a stylized representation of the primitive water pipes laid by the Manhattan Company, but this story was refuted in 2007 by Ivan Chermayeff himself. According to Chermayeff, the Chase logo was merely intended to be distinctive and geometric, and was not intended at all to resemble a cross-section of a wooden water pipe. According to Chase, the sides of the octagon represent forward motion, while the blank space in the middle suggests progress originates from the center; and is a single unit made up of separate parts, like the bank. The bank included an asset management business called the Chase Investors Management Corporation. Under McCloy's successor, George Champion, the bank relinquished its antiquated 1799 state charter for a modern one. In 1969, under the leadership of David Rockefeller, the bank became part of a bank holding company, the Chase Manhattan Corporation.
The mergers and acquisitions during this period allowed Chase Manhattan to expand its influence over many non-financial corporations. A 1979 study titled "The Significance of Bank Control over Large Corporations" found that: "The Rockefeller-controlled Chase Manhattan Bank tops the list, controlling 16 companies." In 1985, Chase Manhattan expanded into Arizona by acquiring Continental Bank. In 1991, Chase Manhattan expanded into Connecticut by acquiring two insolvent banks.
In August 1995, Chemical Bank of New York and Chase Manhattan Bank announced plans to merge. The merger was completed in August 1996. Chemical's previous acquisitions included Manufacturers Hanover Corporation, in 1991, and Texas Commerce Bank, in 1987. Although Chemical was the nominal survivor, the merged company retained the Chase name since not only was it was better known (particularly outside the United States), but the original charter of Chase required that the name be retained in any future business ventures. Hence, even today, it is known as JPMorgan Chase.
In 1998, Chase general counsel William McDavid said that Chase did not have control over Niedermann. Whether that claim was true or not, Chase Manhattan Bank acknowledged seizing about 100 accounts during the Vichy regime. Kenneth McCallion, a partner in the New York firm Goodkind Labaton Rudoff & Sucharow, led a lawsuit against Barclays Bank for the illegal seizure of assets during WWII and has since turned his attention toward Chase. The World Jewish Congress (WJC), entered into discussions with Chase and a spokesperson for the WJC said, "Nobody at Chase today is guilty. They were not involved in whatever happened, but they do accept that they have an institutional responsibility." A Chase spokesman said, "This is a moral issue that we take very seriously." Chase general counsel McDavid added, "that Chase intends to compensate Jewish account holders whose assets were illegally plundered". In 1999, the French government formed a commission to report findings to Prime Minister Lionel Jospin. Claire Andrieu, a commission member and history professor at the Sorbonne, said that under the Vichy regime, French banks received visits from Nazi officials but U.S. banks did not. At that time, they did not have to report Jewish accounts, but they did just as the French banks did. She goes on to say that an American ambassador protected the U.S. subsidiaries.
In December 2000, the combined Chase Manhattan completed the acquisition of J.P. Morgan & Co. in one of the largest banking mergers to date. The combined company was renamed JPMorgan Chase. In 2004, the bank acquired Bank One, making Chase the largest credit card issuer in the United States. JPMorgan Chase added Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual to its acquisitions in 2008 and 2009 respectively. After closing nearly 400 overlapping branches of the combined company, less than 10% of its total, Chase will have approximately 5,410 branches in 23 states as of the closing date of the acquisition. According to data from SNL Financial (data as of June 30, 2008), this places Chase third behind Wells Fargo and Bank of America in terms of total U.S. retail bank branches.
A press release from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in 2004 announced that many of the new Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) files had become declassified. This declassification enabled the discovery that before and during the early years of World War II, the German government sold a special kind of Reichsmark, known as Rückwanderer [returnee] Marks, to American citizens of German descent. Chase National Bank, along with other businesses, were involved in these transactions. Through Chase, this allowed Nazi sympathizers to purchase Marks with dollars at a discounted rate. Specifically, "The financial houses understood that the German government paid the commissions (to its agents, including Chase) through the sale of discounted, blocked Marks that came mainly from Jews who had fled Germany." In other words, Nazi Germany was able to offer these Marks below face-value because they had been stolen from emigrés fleeing the Nazi regime. Between 1936 and 1941, the Nazis amassed over $20 million, and the businesses enabling these transactions earned $1.2 million in commissions. Of these commissions, over $500,000 went to Chase National Bank and its subagents.
In 2004, JPMorgan Chase merged with Chicago-based Bank One Corp., bringing on board its current chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon as president and COO and designating him as CEO William B. Harrison, Jr.'s successor. Dimon's pay was pegged at 90% of Harrison's. Dimon quickly made his influence felt by embarking on a cost-cutting strategy and replaced former JPMorgan Chase executives in key positions with Bank One executives—many of whom were with Dimon at Citigroup. Dimon became CEO in January 2006 and Chairman in December 2006 after Harrison's resignation.
On September 25, 2008, JPMorgan Chase bought most banking operations of Washington Mutual from the receivership of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). That night, the Office of Thrift Supervision, in what was by far the largest bank failure in American history, seized Washington Mutual Bank and placed it into receivership. The FDIC sold the bank's assets, secured debt obligations and deposits to JPMorgan Chase Bank, NA for $1.888 billion, which re-opened the bank the following day. As a result of the takeover, Washington Mutual shareholders lost all their equity. Through the acquisition, JPMorgan became owner of the former accounts of Providian Financial, a credit card issuer WaMu acquired in 2005. The company completed the rebranding of Washington Mutual branches to Chase in late 2009.
In 2006, the modern-day Chase bought the retail banking division of the Bank of New York, which then only months later merged with Pittsburgh-based Mellon Financial to form the present-day BNY Mellon.
In 2019, Chase began opening retail branches in Pittsburgh and other areas within Western Pennsylvania; this coincided with Bank of America starting a similar expansion within the area the previous year. Even though Chase entered the market organically as opposed to a merger & acquisition, they still had to receive approval from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to open branches due to Chase's size as a whole. Before Chase and Bank of America expanded its retail presence into the market, Pittsburgh had been one of the largest U.S. cities without a retail presence from any of the "Big Four", with locally-based PNC Financial Services (no. 6 nationally) having a commanding market share in the area. Chase had previously considered buying National City branches from PNC that were required for divesture following that bank's acquisition of National City in 2009, but were instead sold to First Niagara Bank (since absorbed into KeyBank); it had been speculated that PNC intentionally sold the branches to a much smaller competitor due to not wanting to compete with a "Big Four" bank in its home market.
In October 2010, Chase was named in two lawsuits alleging manipulation of the silver market. The suits allege that by managing giant positions in silver futures and options, the banks influenced the prices of silver on the New York Stock Exchange's Comex Exchange since early 2008.
Chase offers more than 5,100 branches and 17,000 ATMs nationwide. JPMorgan Chase & Co. has 250,355 employees (as of 2016) and operates in more than 100 countries. JPMorgan Chase & Co. had their assets of $2.49 trillion in 2016.
JPMorgan Chase agreed to pay $5 million to compensate their male employees who did not receive the same paid parental leave as women from 2011 to 2017. In December 2017, the bank "clarified its policy to ensure equal access to men and women looking to be their new child's main caregiver". According to the involved attorneys, this is the biggest recorded settlement in a U.S. parental leave discrimination case. JPMorgan agreed to train and monitor to ensure equal parental leave benefits and stated that "its policy was always intended to be gender-neutral".
In 2019 the bank faced growing criticism for its alleged practice of arbitrarily targeting the personal accounts of outspoken online personalities such as Martina Markota and Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio. Although the specific motives behind the closures were not officially disclosed the assumption among many on the right was that they were political in nature.
Chase has faced criticism and protests over its high rate of investment in various fossil fuel industries such as coal, oil, and gas. A study released in October 2019 indicated that Chase invests more ($75 billion) in fossil fuels than any other bank.
A analysis of home purchases in Chicago from 2012 to 2018 by City Bureau and WBEZ Chicago showed that JP Morgan Chase, "loaned 41 times more in Chicago’s white neighborhoods than it did in the city’s black neighborhoods." The report prompted protests at Chicago Chase branches in June 2020. At a reopening of a remodeled Chase branch in Chicago's South Shore, Dimon said via video, "we have targets now to do $600 million (over the next five years) in new mortgages for Blacks and new homeowners in Chicago neighborhoods."