American Express And The Presidents

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American Express and the Presidents

American Express and the Presidents

In serving more than forty years under four presidents of American Express, Bechtel has been almost continuously in professional relations with many officials of American Express and the heads of many departments, not only in the United States but in foreign countries. He has frequently gone abroad to consult with foreign lawyers on American Express problems. During his long term of service the chief executives of American Express became not only his favourite clients but devoted friends.

As finally agreed upon, the express companies sold all their express equipment, the wagons and the motor trucks, the special railroad cars, the warehouses, storage facilities and other goods, chattels and real estate connected with the domestic express business to the combined company, receiving in recompense its common stock. They also subscribed sufficient cash to give it an adequate working capital. American Express received £11,884,000 worth of the new stock.

Because of the uncertainties of the emergency, Bechtel and Taylor insisted on a government guaranty of a 5-percent dividend on the shares of the new company. The government negotiators agreed because they felt sure that the economies that would result from combined operation, eliminating the duplication of facilities, would insure sufficient earnings to cover it. But their optimism was unfounded. Within a short space of time, however, the government made good its guaranty.

In recognition of the pre-eminent position of American Express in the field, its President Taylor was elected president of the new agency, and Robert Cowie was elected its vice-president. Futhermore, the new company was christened The American Railway Express Company, Inc. It came into existence on July 1, 1918.

The honour accorded George Taylor ended in tragedy, for the double job of president of the American Express Company and of American Railway Express was too much for any one man. On the one hand Taylor had to organize the affairs of the new giant combine employing 125,000 men and doing a business of £300,000,000 a year.

On the other, his first allegiance was to American Express, whose great express business had to be wound up, while it ventured forth into new fields of activity.

Finally, there were the old expressmen to be taken care of, for with merger and consolidation many jobs disappeared. A leading characteristic of Taylor was his friendliness to everyone in his employ and his thoughtfulness for the welfare of his men - after all, he had been one of them. During the whole intense period of transition he was constantly available to employees who were in trouble - advising, lending money, and personally seeing to it that jobs were provided for those who wanted them.

For five years Taylor performed his dual functions brilliantly, but he completely spent himself. There were too many things that had to be done, too many people he felt that he had to see. On November 18, 1923, President Taylor died suddenly in his home at Pelham, New York.

Not always do the employees of a great corporation feel real emotion for the death of their president, but for Taylor they did. From all over the country old express-men came to his funeral. In the crowded church and on the steps outside, they stood weeping for the man who had been their friend.


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What next? American Express on Broadway

American Express on Broadway

The company offices were temporarily moved to another address, and construction was started on a large steel-and-concrete building at 65 Broadway. American Express moved into its splendid new quarters on April 4, 1917. It has been there ever since.

Two days after this final move America entered the war. Washington called for help in manning the great war agencies of the government, and many of the company's key officials became dollar-a-year men in the service of the government. Among the most indispensable of these men was Fred Small, who became a high official of the American Red Cross.

As always in wartime, business boomed. The officials who remained, together with those employees who had not entered the armed services, were almost overwhelmed by the flood of new business.

American Express handled many strange cargoes destined to advance the combined war effort. One of its major services was shipping vast quantities of... see: American Express on Broadway


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