Thursday, January 20, 2005


From Crain's Chicago Business:

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., the parent company of Bank One Corp., apologized Thursday for two predecessor banks that took about 13,000 slaves as collateral in the 1800s.

In a disclosure statement filed with the City of Chicago, New York-based J.P. Morgan said it had traced its roots to two Louisiana banks, Canal Bank, which was formed in 1831, and Citizens Bank, which was formed in 1833.

The banks loaned money to plantation owners, accepting slaves as collateral. J.P. Morgan, which bought Chicago-based Bank One last year, estimates that the banks came to own 1,250 slaves after borrowers defaulted on loans. The bank doesn’t know what happened to those slaves, a bank spokesman said.

"We apologize to the African-American community, particularly those who are descendants of slaves, and to the rest of the American public for the role that Citizens Bank and Canal Bank played," J.P. Morgan said in a letter to employees. "The slavery era was a tragic time in U.S. history and in our company’s history."

J.P. Morgan released the information to comply with a city ordinance passed in 2002 requiring that companies doing business with the city disclose details about any financial benefit they may have received from slavery. J.P. Morgan underwrites bond offerings for the city, among other services it provides. The city is also one of the bank’s major depositors. (full article)

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