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Africa And Aboriginal Tuesdays: JP Morgan's Apology, Research And Response For Its Historical Ties To Slavery


In light of the recent revelations that two predecessor banks to JP Morgan had ties to slavery activities, BlackElectorate.com is reprinting JP Morgan's published statement(s) regarding the matter. All of what follows and more is included at the Bank One website (JP Morgan and Bank One merged on July 1, 2004).

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January 20, 2005

Recently, JPMorgan Chase completed extensive research examining our company's history for any links to slavery to meet a commitment to the city of Chicago. Today, we are reporting that this research found that between 1831 and 1865 two of our predecessor banks - Citizens Bank and Canal Bank in Louisiana - accepted approximately 13,000 enslaved individuals as collateral on loans and took ownership of approximately 1,250 of them when the plantation owners defaulted on the loans.

We all know slavery existed in our country, but it is quite different to see how our history and the institution of slavery were intertwined. Slavery was tragically ingrained in American society, but that is no excuse.

We apologize to the American public, and particularly to African-Americans, for the role that Citizens Bank and Canal Bank played during that period.

Although we cannot change the past, we are committed to learning from and emerging stronger because of it. Since these events took place in Louisiana, we are establishing a $5 million college scholarship program for students living in Louisiana.

Smart Start Louisiana will mirror Smart Start New York, an extremely successful program we created and operate in New York City. Through this program, JPMorgan Chase will provide an initial $5 million over five years for full-tuition, undergraduate scholarships to African-American students from Louisiana to attend colleges in their home state. Students will be selected based upon merit and need. In addition to receiving scholarships, the students will have the opportunity to intern at JPMorgan Chase during the summer with the goal of being hired upon graduation.

JPMorgan Chase is, of course, a very different company than the Citizens and Canal Banks of the 1800s. We are committed to creating opportunities for African-Americans within our own firm, and to supporting communities we serve through philanthropic programs focused on economic empowerment and education. For more information, visit the JPMC Today section of this website.

We also realize you may have questions about these research findings. This website provides further details about the research, methodology, and details of findings, including names of the enslaved individuals when identified, parish information and archival citations for those seeking to do further research.

Although much of the information is difficult to look at, we hope it will prove useful to those researching their ancestry, as well as for those seeking to learn more about this tragic period in our country's history.


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Research Methodology

In April of 2004, JPMorgan Chase retained History Associates, a leading consulting firm specializing in archival and historical research, to conduct an investigation into the history of predecessor banks owned by JPMorgan Chase and Bank One.

At our request, History Associates designed a comprehensive research methodology encompassing both internal and public records. By the time the six-month study was complete, more than a dozen research historians had visited or contacted over 75 archival facilities and spent more than 3,500 hours conducting research.

During the first phase of research, History Associates examined all records held in JPMorgan Chase’s and Bank One’s corporate archives that described predecessor bank activities prior to 1866. These records revealed no specific links to slavery. The records did reveal that some predecessor banks in states outside of the South had conducted banking business with municipalities, banks, companies, and individuals located in Southern states where slavery was practiced.

The second phase involved a much broader effort to identify records from predecessor entities that might be held in public repositories, such as historical societies, university libraries, and national, state, or county archives. History Associates surveyed holdings of all likely repositories and when potentially relevant records were found, researchers reviewed them for any information describing activities prior to 1866, including references to business activities conducted in states in which slavery was practiced. In some cases, no records were discovered that cast any light on the business practices of those entities during the slavery era.

Information was located, however, that showed that Citizens Bank and Canal Bank -- two of our predecessor banks in Louisiana -- had been involved in mortgage transactions involving slaves. Searches of the two other states where Bank One predecessors had operations during the slave era, West Virginia and Kentucky, revealed no relevant records.

The third phase of the research was by far the most intensive, as History Associates identified specifics of Citizens Bank and Canal Bank’s involvement in mortgage transactions involving slaves in Louisiana. The research, which began at Tulane University where historical records from the banks had been donated and archived, led researchers to review property records in 39 Louisiana parishes. At each parish, History Associates examined the details of every transaction involving the two banks and collected, where available, the names of all slaveholders and slaves described in the records.

For detailed information review the summary of research findings.

Further information about History Associates can be found at www.historyassociates.com.


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Timeline 1830 – Present

Below you will find a timeline that explains some of our company’s history, dating all the way back to 1831. From this chart you can see how Canal and Citizens banks and other predecessor banks came to form what we know today as Bank One.

Canal Bank was formed in 1831 and Citizens Bank was formed in 1833.


Citizens Bank merged with Canal Bank to form Canal Commercial Trust & Savings Bank in 1924.


In 1931, it appears that New York-based Chase Bank led a group of investors that provided capital to Canal Bank, and Chase Bank became a shareholder and took a controlling management interest in Canal Bank.


Canal Commercial Trust & Savings Bank failed during the Great Depression and was placed into liquidation in March 1933 by order of the federal government.


In May 1933, The National Bank of Commerce in New Orleans was formed pursuant to an executive order approved by President Roosevelt.
Although some of the deposits and loans came from the old Canal Bank, the capital of The National Bank of Commerce was entirely new -- with half coming from the U.S. government and half from new shareholders.


The National Bank of Commerce in New Orleans became First National Bank of Commerce in 1971.


First National Bank of Commerce was merged into Bank One Louisiana, N.A. in 1998.


Bank One merged with JPMorgan Chase & Co. in 2004.


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Common Questions

When did you discover these documents? History Associates began its research in April 2004. Its disciplined approach eventually led to the archival information at Tulane from Citizens and Canal banks. The Tulane information led them to review property records, some of which were written in French Creole, in all 39 Louisiana parishes where the banks appear to have done business

The researchers needed to not only figure out where to look and then collect the information, but they also had to organize and present their findings in an understandable way.

Finally in mid-January, we became confident that we had a full and complete report. In all, 12 research historians have spent more than 3,500 hours on this project.


Why did it take so much time to find out about this if the records have been in existence for so long? Initially, we understood that compliance with Chicago's ordinance involved a review of internal records at Bank One and JPMorgan Chase. Those records did not reveal this information. After the City of Chicago suggested that we expand our search to include public archives, History Associates broadened its search to ultimately include searches or contact with 75 public archives. Some yielded useful information; some did not.

The first records directly linking our predecessor banks to slavery were found at Tulane University. A successor bank had donated the Citizens and Canal Bank papers to the Tulane archives in 1947 and in 1969. The History Associates researchers used that information to guide them to land records in 39 Louisiana parishes. This detailed research provided the information we are making public today.


Do you believe you have identified all the enslaved individuals that were associated with your banks? History Associates has been meticulous in its investigation, going well beyond the original scope of the research. Twelve research historians spent more than 3,500 hours to contact or visit over 75 research archives and examine individual property records at 39 Louisiana parishes. We are confident that most of the information that can be found through publicly available sources has been found.


How did you estimate the number of slaves that were listed among the property covered by mortgages given to the bank? When I look at the document titled "Lists of Plantations Mortgaged," several of the plantations list simply "unnamed slaves," without providing a specific number. How did that factor into your arriving at your estimation of 13,000? The estimate does include "unnamed slaves" identified in this document. The 13,000 figure represents the best approximation that the research historians we retained can provide today on the number of enslaved individuals pledged to the Citizens and Canal Banks. The Attachment 3 filed today contains the information that we have collected to date. We will update that file as soon as we have analyzed the remaining Louisiana data, but we believe that when all data is totaled it will be approximately 13,000. This attachment represents approximately 8,600 of that figure.


What states did you search and was Louisiana the only state in which you found documentation? In addition to Louisiana, we searched archives in New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, the District of Columbia and the United Kingdom. Louisiana was the only state in which documents directly linking predecessors of the bank to slavery were discovered.


What is the history of Citizens Bank and Canal Bank and their connection to Bank One and JPMorgan Chase? Canal Bank was formed in 1831 and Citizens Bank was formed in 1833. The two banks merged into Canal Commercial Trust & Savings Bank in 1924. Predecessors of JPMorgan Chase had longstanding banking relationships with Canal Bank and were creditors of Canal Bank. In 1931, it appears that New York-based Chase Bank led a group of investors that provided capital to Canal Bank, and Chase Bank became a shareholder and took a controlling management interest in Canal Bank. In 1933, however, Canal Bank failed and was liquidated.

In May 1933, The National Bank of Commerce in New Orleans was formed under a federal charter and its assets included some of the deposits and loans of the old Canal Bank. Most of its capital was supplied by the federal government, with the remainder coming from new shareholders. The U.S. government also provided more than $13 million toward the liquidation of the old Canal Bank.

The National Bank of Commerce in New Orleans became First National Bank of Commerce in 1971. First National Bank of Commerce was merged into Bank One Louisiana, N.A. in 1998. Bank One merged with JPMorgan Chase & Co. in 2004.


How, exactly, did the bank profit from slavery? It is impossible to tell if it did. For example, it is not clear that our bank earned any profit from Citizens Bank and Canal Bank. The two banks merged in 1924. That bank then failed during the Great Depression and was liquidated.

In May 1933, The National Bank of Commerce in New Orleans was formed under a federal charter and its assets included some of the deposits and loans of the old Canal Bank. Most of its capital was supplied by the federal government, with the remainder coming from new shareholders. The U.S. government also provided more than $13 million toward the liquidation of the old Canal Bank.


Why haven't any other banks announced anything like this? We believe that we are one of the first companies to conduct such an extensive search of external records. We also believe it is rare for such meticulous bank records from the 1800s to have survived.


Why are you giving this particular grant? Citizens Bank and Canal Bank did business in Louisiana, and we believe it is important to give back to African-Americans there. We can think of no better way to do that than to help young people get a college education, which is why we are establishing a scholarship fund of an initial $5 million over five years for Louisianans.


Is there anything you are doing to honor past victims of slavery? Last year, JPMorgan Chase and Bank One combined gave approximately $20 million to non-profit organizations that serve and benefit African-Americans. While most of our work is focused on economic empowerment, community asset building and youth education, we do fund organizations that recognize the history of African-Americans and provide education about slavery. In fact, both JPMorgan Chase and Bank One were major donors to the Underground Railroad Museum, in Cincinnati. Bank One also has provided funding to the Amistad Research Center at Tulane.


How can I learn more about slavery? History Associates found the Tulane University archives to be very helpful in their research of the Louisiana area. However, there are many organizations and academic institutions with information that could be useful to those researching their ancestry. For further information, visit the resources section of this website.


© 2005 JPMorgan Chase & Co.


Tuesday, February 1, 2005

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