Saturday, January 22, 2005

Story on 1830-1865 US banks using slaves as collateral

Ok, first off, I have to say that slavery is awful and totally inexcusable. As an avid reader of Civil War books and many slave narratives, I am utterly amazed that anyone could have allowed it or worst yet owned slaves themselves. Indeed, it is a major black eye that we ever allowed it. (And if slavery is still around today, we all should work to stop it. )

That said, I was particularly interested when I saw the following headline "Bank admits slave trade links", I had to investigate more. What bank today would ever be tied to slavery?! Well, the story, while interesting, is more of a history lesson than a current events item.

It seems that Citizens Bank and Canal Bank (two Louisiana-based banks), accepted slaves as collateral from 1830-1865 (many banks did as slavery was legal and these people were seen as property). The banks were then puchased by Chase in 1931. Now, to meet a Chicago law, JP Morgan-Chase traced their history and found that in the antebellum South, banks that now are owned by JPMorgan-Chase allowed slaves as collateral and even accepted took ownership of some people when the borrowers defaulted.

From the BBC:
BBC NEWS Business JP Morgan admits US slavery links
"Citizens Bank and Canal Bank are the two lenders that were identified. They are now closed, but were linked to Bank One, which JP Morgan bought last year. About 13,000 slaves were used as loan collateral between 1831 and 1865" "Because of defaults by plantation owners, Citizens and Canal ended up owning about 1,250 slaves. "
Because of this finding, the bank issued an apology and started a scholarship program for African-Americans from Louisiana.

From The Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

"JP Morgan officials said the bank undertook the study after Chicago passed an ordinance in 2003 requiring companies that do business with the city to research their history to determine any links to slavery. Among the companies that have been required to do such research are banks, insurance companies, bond underwriters and other financial vendors. Jennifer Hoyle of the city's law department said it was the first contractor's filing to disclose specific slavery information under the new ordinance."

No comments: