Buttonwood Agreement

In 1790, the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, issued $80 million in bonds to pay for the Revolutionary War. On May 17, 1792 a group of twenty-four merchants and brokers gathered under a buttonwood tree at 68 Wall Street in lower Manhattan, New York City, and agreed to trade the securities. The result of the meeting was the Buttonwood Agreement, a simple, two sentence contract that created the forerunner of the New York Stock Exchange. The traders designated the Tontine Coffee House in Wall Street as their exchange in 1793. In 1817, they formed the New York Stock & Exchange Board with its own constitution and bylaws, and in 1863 its name was changed to the New York Stock Exchange.