Securities Law Section



Message from the Chair

Section Chair: 


 
Charles Niemeier
Williams & Connolly LLP
Washington, D.C.

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The Federal Bar Association - Securities Law Section is a proud sponsor of the virtual museum and archive of the history of financial regulation at www.sechistorical.org. While the museum is free and accessible to everyone at all times, the Section will highlight specific material and information within the museum on securities law issues in the coming months, providing current and prospective Section members with unique insight and context.

The oldest artifact in the virtual museum and archive of the history of financial regulation is nearly as old as the United States.  The Buttonwood Agreement, named for the buttonwood tree  on Wall Street under which the agreement was made, was signed on May 17, 1792, by 24 stockbrokers and merchants.  Buttonwood, another term for sycamore, took its name from the hard, button-shaped fruit that grew on its branches.  The agreement established the first incarnation of what would become the New York Stock Exchange.

The agreement is succinct at only 85 words long, but laid the foundation for a firm working relationship. The brokers would only trade with, and would give preference in negotiations to, each other.  Further, there would be an established commission structure, which was important to rebuilding confidence in the wake of the financial panic of 1792.  In 1793, after meetings became too large to hold under the shade of the hearty buttonwood, new headquarters were established down the street at the Tontine Coffeehouse.

After 225 years, the buttonwood tree and the Tontine Coffeehouse have been lost to history.  But what they left behind can still be seen in and around Wall Street.  In fact, at 18 Broad Street, in the shadow of the façade of the New York Stock Exchange building, beneath the white Georgia marble and Corinthian columns and nearly hidden by the massive building, is a small sycamore tree – a tribute to the 85 words and 24 men that started it all.

 

Resources

The Source: September 2017


The Source: June 2017


The Source: March 2017


The Source: December 2016


The Source: September 2016


The Source: June 2016


The Source: March 2016


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