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WORLD SERVICE

WORLD SERVICE

Money Orders, Foreign Remittances, and foreign exchange. There was also the freight-forwarding business and the new activities of the Travel Department, both in this country and abroad.

In having these profitable sidelines, American Express was unlike its competitor companies, who either went out of business or radically changed the nature of their activities. About a year after the formation of the American Railway Express, Wells Fargo and Adams Express sold their Travellers Cheque, financial and foreign businesses, which were comparatively small, to the American Express Company. Wells Fargo owned Mexican and Cuban express companies, exempted from the consolidation, and sold them to American Express in 1920. In 1925 American Express acquired control of Wells Fargo and Company, which had become inactive. Adams Express Company became an investment trust.

The American Express Travellers Cheques and Money Orders became, as they are now, the most important operation of the company. Next to that for a time was the Foreign Remittance business, which John Dennen helped to build through the years.

At the end of World War I the foreign populations of America were still close to their roots in Europe. Many of them were first-generation immigrants whose fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters had remained at home. The boom times of war had made them comparatively prosperous, and they generously sent money back to their people.

American Express enjoyed a large share of this business because many of these immigrants had seen the name of American Express in their own countries or in the construction camps where they worked here. Naturally they entrusted their money to a familiar and friendly institution.

After 1918 the Travel Department became the object of the greatest effort. It had been officially set up in 1915 at the insistence of Brooks under the direction of Ralph E. Towle. As early as 1916 this department, hampered though it was by war in Europe, launched itself vigorously into the business of cruises, conducted tours, and special movements. The first American Express Tour to the Orient sailed on January 27, 1916, and a cruise to Alaska sailed from Seattle in June of that year. In August the first American Express Domestic Tour went off to Niagara Falls and Canada.

Despite the war, a Russian office of American Express was opened in St. Petersburg in 1916, just in time for the revolution.

The last big shipment sent to Russia by American Express was a consignment of 25,000 safety razors and 3,000,000 blades, which publicity releases announced spelled "the doom of Russian whiskers,"

After the hiatus of war Americans were eager to travel and American Expressmen, spurred by their enthusiasm for the new Travel Department, were quick to seize the opportunity. President Taylor gave Frederick P. Small, who had been elected first vice-president of the American Express Company, a free hand in the management, not only of the Travel Department, but of all the departments of the company.

Small was a man from Maine, a dependable Down-Easter with all the integrity, loyalty, persistence, and acumen that implies. He also had the sweep of imagination that is common to those who live by the sea and watch the tall ships sail down the horizon. An official of American Express once called him "a clipper-ship captain born one generation too late."

Among his other abilities, Small was an expert stenographer. It is typical of Small's attention to detail that he always brought his stenographer's pad to meetings and recorded every word that was said. Even after he became president of American Express, when the telephone rang on his big desk he would pick up a pencil before lifting the receiver and jot down the conversation. Many of these notes in Small's cryptogrammic shorthand are duly filed in the company's records.


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What next? 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... see: American Express and the Presidents


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