On May 17, 1792―under a buttonwood tree, the site of street trading at the time―24 stock brokers signed an agreement that regulated aspects of trading, thus creating the New York Stock Exchange. Before then, in the early days of the new republic when the United States was deeply in debt, it was Alexander Hamilton’s job as the first Secretary of the Treasury to persuade his colleagues in the first Congress that debt could be a beneficial commodity that could be sold and traded. But rampant speculation in war debt and bank stock turned to financial panic and provided the cautionary backdrop for the drafting of the Buttonwood Agreement in May 1792, which would change global commerce forever.
On the 225th anniversary of the New York Stock Exchange, Taming Traders: Origins of the New York Stock Exchange charts the development of this crucial trading institution. Objects on display include early bond and stock certificates, correspondence, portraits of traders, and views of Wall Street and the Tontine Coffee House. Also on view will be video clips from New-York Historical’s major oral history project, “Remembering Wall Street, 1950-1980.”
The exhibition is curated by Dr. Michael Ryan, New-York Historical vice president and director of the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library.
Exhibitions at the New-York Historical Society are made possible by Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang and Oscar Tang, the Saunders Trust for American History, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.