Wells Fargo & Company and American Express announced today the launch of two new credit cards—Propel 365 and Propel World–for Wells Fargo customers. The new cards will be accepted on the American Express global merchant network, and Wells Fargo customers may apply for either card through mail, online, phone or at any of our more than 6,000 retail store locations.
This announcement represents a continuation of over 160 years of people and business in common, with frequently intersecting business.
Henry Wells and William G. Fargo founded Wells Fargo and Co. in 1852 to provide express and financial services to gold rush pioneers. Wells and Fargo were also founders of American Express Company in 1850. Both companies began on the same day in their respective years—March 18! In addition to sharing a birthday, Wells Fargo and American Express have shared a number of individuals who contributed to the success of both companies and their ventures.
Henry Wells was the first president of American Express from 1850 to 1868. William Fargo succeeded Wells as president of American Express upon Wells’ retirement from the position in 1868, and served as president until his death in 1881. In the early 1870s, Fargo was president of both companies.
Benjamin Cheney and Johnston Livingston were two of Wells Fargo’s first Directors, and also served in that capacity for American Express. D.N. Barney was Wells Fargo’s president in 1853, and served on the Board of Directors of American Express that year as well.
Personalities and personal dynamics contributed a great deal to the creation of Wells Fargo & Co. Henry Wells, and William G. Fargo were eager to expand American Express’s business to the Pacific Coast, where millions of dollars in gold fueled rapid national expansion. A competing company, Adams Express, had already established itself on the Pacific; Wells and Fargo proposed expansion of the American Express franchise out west. American Express co-founder, director, and major stockholder John Butterfield, and three other directors, opposed the initiatives.
Wells and Fargo gathered other investors at New York’s Astor House hotel in 1852 and formed a new joint stock association called Wells, Fargo & Co. A few years later, with the operation a fast-growing success, Butterfield worked with Wells Fargo to create the first transcontinental stagecoach line.
Wells Fargo and American Express both had historic and successful express businesses—transferring and shipping customers’ money and valuable goods by the fastest means available. In Wells Fargo’s early days, during the California gold rush, Wells Fargo express connected with established transportation networks in the east, with American Express and other companies.
American Express and Wells Fargo were competitors, but at some times and in some places, the two companies established joint agencies, shared commercial space and even personnel. Communities served jointly include St. Paul, Minn. (1890): Omaha, Neb. (1902); Urbana, Ohio (1905); Birmingham, Ala. (1909); Walla Walla, Wash. (1912); Ogden, Utah (1913); Rapid City, So. Dak., Natchez, Miss., Appleton, Wisc., Boone, Iowa and Boulder, Colo in 1914; Stillwater Minnesota in 1915; Wilmington, Del., Gary, Ind., Atchison, Kan. and Aberdeen Wash. in 1916.
There were also joint offices in Mexico and Cuba.
Dozens of career expressmen such as E. Morseman of Omaha also served both companies over long careers in the business.
Issuing Propel 365 and Propel World is the latest connection between American Express and Wells Fargo, a partnership that weaves through time and innovation.