Stock Market Time Line

  • Early History

    Dutch colonists construct a wooden stockade across lower Manhattan to protect the north side of their settlement against attacks by the British and Indians. By the turn of the 18th century, the British have taken over the colony and dismantled the barrier, turning it into a paved lane called Wall Street.
  • Fire

    A devastating fire, probably the work of colonial arsonists trying to disrupt the British occupation of the city during the American Revolution, destroys hundreds of structures in the vicinity of Wall Street.
  • Hamilton

    In his landmark Report on the Public Credit, the young nation’s first treasury secretary, Alexander Hamilton, proposes a method for the U.S. to handle federal and state debt by issuing government bonds, and establishes the principle of free trade for securities in the marketplace.
  • Meeting in Philadelphia

    Brokers meet in Philadelphia, where they buy and sell the first major issues of publicly-traded securities: $80 million in bonds issued by the federal government to pay off debt from the Revolutionary War.
  • Buttonwood Agreement

    At the Merchants’ Coffee House at the corner of Wall and Water Streets, two dozen New York City stockbrokers and merchants sign the “Buttonwood Agreement,” named after a buttonwood tree under which business has been transacted in the past. The agreement lists rules for securities transactions.
  • Tontine Coffee House

    The locus for securities transactions in New York moves to the Tontine Coffee House, across the street from the Merchants’ Coffee House. Business is also transacted on the street.
  • establishing the NYSE

    A group of New York brokers formally establish the New York Stock and Exchange Board, an organization that later will be renamed the New York Stock Exchange (N.Y.S.E.).
  • 5,000 shares a day

    The stock market reaches a trading volume of 5,000 shares a day.
  • another fire destroys building

    On a bitterly cold night, a fire starts in lower Manhattan. Raging for two days, it will destroy 700 buildings, including the Merchants’ Exchange
  • Out of the streets

    The N.Y.S.E. bars its members from conducting business in the streets.
  • The first president of NYSE is paid a salary

    The N.Y.S.E. starts paying its president a salary. The first paid president, David Clarkson, earns $2000 a year ($31,960 in 2003 dollars).
  • The telegraph is a helpful tool

    Samuel F. B. Morse transmits the first viable telegraph message. Securities brokers quickly adopt the technology to send market quotations. The telegraph helps expand the stock market by making trades accessible to brokers and investors outside of New York.
  • Civil War has impact

    In response to the outbreak of the Civil War, trading of Confederate securities is banned.
  • Transatlantic cable

    Cyrus Field completes a transatlantic cable, connecting telegraph operators across the Atlantic Ocean. For the first time, London and New York markets can communicate instantaneously.
  • Stock ticker gets invented

    Edward Callahan invents the stock ticker, a device that shows current market prices and represents each company on the stock market with symbols based on Morse code.
  • "Black Friday"

    Black Friday. A group of speculators led by Jay Gould and Jim Fiske try to corner the gold market, setting off a U.S. financial panic.
  • Panic of 1873

    The brokerage firm of Jay Cooke & Company, a major investor in new railroad construction, collapses, sparking the Panic of 1873.
  • Telephones get installed

    The N.Y.S.E. installs the first telephones on its trading floor.
  • Dow Jones & Company

    Charles Dow and Edward Jones form Dow Jones & Company and design the first index to measure the activity of the N.Y.S.E.
  • Grant and Ward

    The Wall Street brokerage firm of Grand and Ward fails, leading to a panic and the failure of 15 other stock exchange firms. Grant and Ward is co-owned by Buck Grant, the son of former Union general and president Ulysses S. Grant, and the failure plunges the ex-president into bankruptcy. Desperate for money, he will begin writing his wartime memoirs soon afterward.
  • One million shares a day

    The N.Y.S.E.'s trading volume reaches one million shares a day for the first time.