THE Bank of the Manhattan Company is one of the nine American banks whose origin dates back to the eighteenth century.
A severe yellow fever epidemic in 1798, attributed to the inadequate and inferior water supplied to the formation of an association, of which Aaron Burr was the moving spirit, which sought and obtained from the Legislature, on April 2, 1799, a charter for The Manhattan Company. organized with a capital of $2,000,000, foe the purpose of "supplying the City of New York with pure and wholesome water."
A clause of the charter permitting the company to employ all surplus capital in the purchase public or other stock, or in any other moneyed transactions, or operations not inconsistent with Constitution and laws of New York, or the L nited States, was strongly opposed, but in view the need for a water system, the bill was passed was signed by the Governor.
By May 15, 1799, the entire capital was sub-scribed by several thousand persons, and the book, with signatures of many leading —en of that day, is still preserved. The City of New York took two thousand shares, and the charter provision that the City Recorder should be x-officio a director of the company was in force that office was abolished in 1907. A charter amendment by the Legislature in 1808, giving the cerate the right to take one thousand shares of the stock, was exercised, the capital being increased to $2,050,000 for that purpose. Both State and City continue to this day as stockholders. this being the only bank stock held by the State of New York.
The company inaugurated a water supply sys-tem. Wells were sunk, reservoirs and tanks were built, and the distributing system established through the city south of City Hall. About 1836 was extended north to Bleecker Street. The service was operated until the Croton system was completed in 1842.
Under the banking clause of its charter, the company entered the banking business on September x, 1799, at 40 Wall Street, where its main has since remained. It has an uptown of- ce at 31 Union Square, as a result of a merger with the Bank of the Metropolis on February 11, 1918, and thirteen offices in the Borough of Queens as a result of a merger with the Bank of Long Island on January 10, 1920.
The directors, in 1799, created a committee to periodically examine its cash and securities, a safeguard which the Legislature, 106 years later, made compulsory for all State banking institutions.
The Manhattan Company was an original member of the New York Clearing House Association in 1853, and stands No. 2 on its roll. From 1853 to 1880 the bank's deposits averaged between $3,000,000 and $5,000,000. The present capital and surplus amount to $12,000,000, with deposits of $100,000,000.
The Bank of the Manhattan Company was originally established as an "Office of Discount and Deposit," and has always maintained its place, as a commercial bank, its first clientele having been largely composed of merchants and shipping men. Its seal, adopted in 1799, shows the figure of Oceanus, one of the sea-gods. The bank is a thoroughly modern and well-equipped organization, and among its other facilities it maintains carefully organized credit and foreign exchange departments. ,
It seeks the active accounts or merchants, ex-porters and manufacturers, for which the diver-sified character of its deposits has always pro-vided ample funds.
The bank's officers are men of integrity and ability, experienced in the business, and its Board of Directors is a strong one, composed of men of standing and responsibility in financial and commercial circles. The officers are Stephen Baker, president; Henry K. McHarg, Edwin S. Laffey, James McNeil, B. D. Forster, P. A. Rowley and V. W. Smith, vice-presidents; D. H. Pier- son, cashier; W. F. Moore and John S. Baker, assistant cashiers.
Stephen Baker, in addition to being a director of the Bank of the Manhattan Company, is a di-rector of the Bankers' Trust Company and the Metropolis Safe Deposit Company, and a trustee of the Bowery Savings Bank and of Columbia University, being chairman of the latter's Com-mittee on Finance.