Gold Fund for Cashing Travelers' Credits: Minutes of First Meeting


Gold Fund for Cashing Travelers' Credits: Minutes of First Meeting


Strong, Benjamin, 1872-1928




1914 August 4


Various members of the banking community met to discuss transporting gold to England end Europe for the relief of Americans there.


Benjamin Strong Jr. Papers, New York Federal Reserve Bank




(Temporary Cover)
Minutes of First Meeting of
Representatives of Contributors.
A meeting was held this afternoon, at the office of the Bankers Trust Company, at wihich the foollowing were present:
Messrs. W.I. Benedict, of Kidder, Peabody & Co.,James Brown, of Brown Bros. & Co.,A. J. Hemphill, of the Guaranty Trust Company,J. P. Morgan, of J. P. Morgan & Co.,Benj. Strong Jr., of the Bankers Trust Company,Geo. C. Taylor, of the American Express Company.
The gentlemen present organized informally as a committee with respect to considering the ways and means of transmitting gold to England and Europe, to be used in connection with travelers’ credits for the relief of Americans now in England and Europe.
Mr. Benj. Strong Jr. presided at this informal meeting and explained the following plan:He said that he was advised that the Government was prepared to dispatch the United States warship “Tennessee”, upon which could be sent gold for the use in cashing travelers’ credits for the relief of American tourists.
He stated that the Bankers Trust Company had available $5,117,000. in gold, which it was prepared to ship on such warship in connection with the participation in such shipment by other banks and bankers; that ten New York City banks or bankers were prepared to go in pro rata on the basis of a contribution of $511,700. each, towards a total fund of $5,117,000., the Bankers Trust Company to receive reimbursement from the other contributing banks or bankers in gold.
Mr. Strong stated that the following ten institutions were ready to so contribute:

American Express Company    Guaranty Trust Company
Bankers Trust Company         Kidder, Peabody & Co.
Brown Brothers & Co.            J. P. Morgan & Co.
Farmers Loan & Trust Co.       National Bank of Commerce
First National Bank               National City Bank

It was agreed that the gold so shipped should be insured, if possible, against all risks except war risks, the latter being not obtainable, and that if it was found impossible to obtain insurance to cover the entire risk, but enough to cover more than one-half of the risk, in that event the amount not covered would be pro rated among the ten institutions contributing to the fund; but that if it was found impossible to obtain insurance up to one-half of the entire risk, no action should be taken with respect to the shipment until a further meeting of the committee. The matter of obtaining such insurance was left to the Bankers Trust Company and the American Express Company.
It was further determined that the gold should be delivered to the American Express Company for shipment on the “Tennessee”. The Committee accepted Mr. Taylor’s offer of the services of the American Express Company, organizing a force of men to supervise the shipment in transit and to accept delivery on the arrival of the “Tennessee”, on the understanding that the American Express Company assume no risk except that attaching to its own shipment.
Mr. Taylor stated that the force which he planned to put in charge of such shipment would be under the direction of Mr. Henry Gee and Mr. John Grier, the latter of C. D. Barney & Co., and Mr. Taylor’s statement in that respect was approved by the committee.
The Bankers Trust Company was appointed as the New York fiscal agent of the fund. The Bankers Trust Company was empowered as such fiscal agent to deliver to the American Express Company the fund (or that part of it) to be shipped via “Tennessee”.
The Committee voted the fund, as contributed, should be used for payments against travelers’ credits, (i. e. letters of credit and travelers’ cheques) issued by American bankers or banking houses and the American Express Company, or other American institutions, in amounts necessary to relieve the needs of the holders of such travelers’ credits, the sole purpose of the creation and administration of the fund being for the relief so to be effected through cashing such credits for the holders thereof.
It was the sense of the committee that the determination of the amounts to be paid against travelers’ credits as presented from time to time should be as advised by a committee or committees organized under the auspices of American travelers abroad, as approved by this committee at a later meeting, such committee so selected to be instructed and authorized by this committee to reject, in its discretion, any particular travelers’ credit presented for payment, and in its discretion to advise the fiscal agents of the committee in London and Paris as to the particular travelers’ credits which shall be cashed from such funds.
It was deemed wise at this time to make no public announcement.
On the question of the liability of shippers and the risk of loss, the committee was advised that there would be no legal responsibility on the part of the United States Government to reimburse the shippers in the event of loss of the shipment, unless some definite arragement was made to that effect.
It was agreed that at a subsequent meeting of the committee specific instructions would be formulated and sent to Mr. Fred I. Kent as representing the Bankers Trust Company, respecting the disposal of the fund.
It was decided to take up at a later meeting the details of the manner in which the ten Original Contributors and additional contributors were to be reimbursed for their contributions.
It was further suggested that each contributor receive, on payment for his contribution, a certificate from the Bankers Trust Company as agent to evidence such pay;ment.
It was the unanimous agreement of the committee that Morgan, Grenfell & Co., Brown, Shipley & Co. and Guaranty Trust Company of New York be appointed fiscal agents of the Committee, in London, and Morgan, Harjes & Company and American Express Company such agents in Paris, and that such fiscal agents be entirely free to act as the fiscal agents of the United States Government in the distribution of the contemplated relief fund to be sent agroad by such Government.
The Committee approved the recommendation hitherto made by Mr. Strong to the Administration at Washington, that the guaranty Trust Company of New York, Morgan, Grenfell & Co. and Brown, Shipley & Co. be appointed the special fiscal agents of the United States Government for the purpose of the United States relief fund in London and that Morgan Harjes & Co. and the American Express Company be appointed such agents for like purposes in Paris; as it was the unanimous opinion of the committee that both economy and efficiency advised that all contemplated relief work be done through the same agencies.

Original Format




Strong, Benjamin, 1872-1928, “Gold Fund for Cashing Travelers' Credits: Minutes of First Meeting,” 1914 August 4, WWP18444, Benjamin Strong Jr. Papers, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.