Adams Express Company

The Adams Express Company is an American investment trust that traces its roots to a 19th century freight and cargo transport company.

In 1839, Alvin Adams, a produce merchant ruined by the Panic of 1837, began carrying letters, small packages and valuables for patrons between Boston and Worcester, Massachusetts. He had at first a partner named Burke, who soon withdrew, and as Adams: & Company, Adams rapidly extended his territory to New York City, Philadelphia and other eastern cities. By 1847, he had penetrated deeply into the South, and by 1850 he was shipping by rail and stagecoach to St. Louis. In 1854, the company was reorganized as the Adams Express Company. Meanwhile, a subsidiary concern, Adams & Company of California, had been organized in 1850 and spread its service all over the Pacific Coast; but not being under Adams' personal management, it was badly handled, and failed in 1854, causing a panic which shook California to its depths.

The South was almost entirely covered by the Adams Express service in 1861, when the American Civil War necessitated the splitting off of another company under Henry B. Plant, which, for political reasons, was given the name of Southern Express. There was a mysterious kinship between the two ever afterward, having joint offices at common points. Southern stock was never quoted in the market, and it was even charged by some Adams stockholders that Southern was secretly owned by Adams. The current official history of Adams, written in 2004, acknowledges that Southern was its subsidiary. []

The parent company held a strong position from New England and the mid-Atlantic coast to the far Western plains. Its stock holdings were enormous. In 1910, it was the second largest stockholder in the Pennsylvania Railroad and the third largest in the New Haven Railroad, besides owning large blocks of American Express, Norfolk and Western Railroad and other shares. Its antebellum employment of Allan Pinkerton to solve its robbery problems was a large factor in building up the noted Pinkerton National Detective Agency. Along with the other expresses, its shipping interests were merged by the government into the American Railway Express Company, which later became the Railway Express Agency.

Adams Express continued its corporate existence as a wealthy investment trust. It has been a closed-end fund (nyse|ADX) since 1929 and has its main offices in Baltimore, Maryland. As of 2007, it has paid a dividend every year for 72 years (since 1936).


* Dictionary of American History by James Truslow Adams, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1940

See also

* Kate Warne
* William F. Harnden

External links

* [ Adams Express Company]

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