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100 Years Since World War I | History is Our Story | J.P. Morgan

100 Years Since World War I | History is Our Story | J.P. Morgan


[gentle acoustic music] Elizabeth: 1914 saw
the start of a war like no one had
ever seen before. Sparked by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand
of Austria-Hungary, World War I tore nation
after nation apart. It was unprecedented in scale. It demanded vast numbers
of people and resources and was incredibly expensive. It was known as a total war because it affected every facet of society, including banking. How did a series of bold moves by banks and their employees help the Allied cause? In 1915, U.S. allies
Britain and France were in dire financial straits. To help them, JPMorgan & Co arranged a much-needed $500 million loan
to the two nations. At the time, it was the
largest foreign loan in Wall Street history. The firm also acted as a purchasing agent for the Allies, helping to secure
almost $3 billion worth of desperately needed
munitions and raw materials. As fighting waged
across continents, tensions in the Unites States were mounting. After nearly three years
of declared neutrality, in April 1917,
U.S. Congress declared war. [patriotic music and cheers] Singer: ♪ Over there,
over there… ♪ Elizabeth:
The transition was swift and JPMorgan Chase
predecessor banks were quick to respond
at home and overseas. Banks organized
Liberty Loan drives imploring patriotic citizens to
lend money to the government for the war effort. These war bonds gave many Americans their first taste of investing in
financial securities. Many bank executives
also stepped in to lead various
wartime committees like the Red Cross and the
Council of National Defense. Banks were equally supportive
on the front lines. Guaranty Trust Company raised
money for an ambulance and sent an armored mobile bank to service soldiers in France. Thousands of bank employees enlisted to fight in the war and sent home dramatic
tales from the field that made their way
into bank newsletters. Soldier: “Our battalion
has had two gas attacks and several Boche raids.” Soldier 2: “We saw shrapnel
from the defense guns. It was bursting
high in the air.” Soldier 3: “The mines
upset and ruined the tanks. It was a masterly defense, one of the best military
feats of the war.” Elizabeth: Women stepped in
to fill vacant jobs as tellers, clerks
and loan officers. In addition to
their bank duties, these women were instrumental in fundraising and relief work. Partnering with the Red Cross, they knitted socks and sweaters and packaged surgical dressings for soldiers overseas. In November 1918, World War I came to an end. Many JPMorgan Chase
predecessor banks advocated for the
rehiring of veterans and erected memorials
to honor bank employees who had given their
lives for their country. Though international banking played an unprecedented role during the war, it was the banks’ dedicated men and women, working at home and
fighting overseas, who battled tyranny and enabled democracy to prevail for all. [gentle acoustic music]

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