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The American Express Headquarters is based in Manhatten in New York, with over seven hundred people work there, handling millions of items every year. Though American Express managers abroad must have a great deal of independent authority to meet the emergencies of the moment - also the courage to use it - the home office keeps a careful check on the operations of all its offices and bureaus, many of which report their financial transactions every day. These reports provide officials of American Express with a daily record of the company's world-wide operations and services.

The headquarters is also a clearinghouse for information on travel conditions, passenger and freight rates, and a great mass of detailed data on customs, laws, economic and political conditions in the twenty-eight countries in which American Express operates. The reports are summarized and sent out to the foreign and domestic offices of the company, so that a clerk in Dallas or Singapore can tell you the price of a sight-seeing trip around Karachi or the rates on a shipment of carpet wool from Peru to Manchester, England.

The public knows the stately block-long room on the ground floor of 65 Broadway. On one side are the marble counters and mahogany desks of the Travel Service, and on the other, for the whole long space, are the tellers' windows for paying and receiving money on Letters of Credit, Foreign Remittances, Money Orders, and Travellers Cheques. To the right of the main room is a long corridor with banks of elevators that serve the upper stories.

The public rooms are impressive, but if you would seek the innermost core of American Express, whence its direction and spirit derive, take an express elevator to the twelfth floor. There, in a big, quiet office overlooking the Hudson and its lively shipping, sits President Ralph T. Reed, holding in his strong hands all the thousand threads of a network that covers the globe.

Reed is a solid man with a square jaw and brilliant hazel eyes that can bore through you or crinkle delightfully with humour. His dark hair is brushed with gray, but he has the vitality of youth - a quiet man, with the stillness that implies tremendous reserve power.

Though he is a fine executive, he believes that his role as president implies far more than technical knowledge and the ability to make decisions. "The important thing is leadership," he says. "I try to lead the men under me, not to drive them; to show them the way to go, to visualize for them the ideals for which we stand, and to inspire them by setting an example.

"Next in importance to leading the company is securing men who have capabilities of leadership, and developing their potential - men who can do things. If we can get this spirit into key men we will have a whole group of leaders in American Express - not just one."

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What next? The War Comes to an End

The War Comes to an End

In the late summer of 1944 the United States Army, expecting an early end of the war, asked American Express officials to plan an extended series of sight-seeing tours of Europe for the troops abroad. Bert White conferred with the generals in Washington and later submitted an elaborate presentation which was approved in principle. However, the military had been slightly overoptimistic. As German resistance stiffened at the border of the Fatherland and then erupted in the fierce surge of the Battle of the Bulge, the plans had to be put aside.

Nazi desperation could do no more than delay the inevitable. General Jodil signed the surrender at last in the little schoolhouse at Rheims, and the peace of desolation settled over Europe. But in the ruined cities and the wrecked economies men soon began rebuilding. American Express was early in the field to forward this process by its every means.

Bergeron worked fast, and 11 Rue Scribe reopened... see: The War Comes to an End

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