18 March 1850

American Express is founded by Henry Wells and William Fargo.

When it comes to American Express, almost everyone is a fan. From Jerry Seinfeld to Beyonce, many celebrities have shown their love for the company. Before “Don’t Leave Home Without It” became a thing, the company started out on a different path.
Together We’ll Go Far

If you’re familiar with banks, you probably have someone using Wells Fargo. Henry Wells and William Fargo came from different upbringings. Wells worked on the farm as a kid while going to school. On the other side, Fargo ditched school entirely to deliver mail in his town.

As they got older, the two managed to work together on Western Express. At the time, this mailing service only delivered to Buffalo, Chicago, Cincinnati, and St. Louis. Unfortunately, they couldn’t use railroads to help bring packages to their destinations. Since cars weren’t invented yet, wagons and steamboats had to be used. Over time, Fargo and Wells had their own separate mailing service companies. If that wasn’t enough, John Warren Butterfield threw their hat in the mail game.
Some Stiff Competition

With three services running simultaneously, things got a bit hectic. Certain packages couldn’t make it their destination because another company held down the area. No one involved wanted to become Ethan Hunt in this situation.

In 1850, all three men decided to combine their services to make one major package powerhouse. On March 18, 1850, Wells, Fargo, and Butterfield united to open up American Express.
Service For Everyone

Before the merger, all three companies predominantly serviced the Midwest. Something that was on the minds of Wells and Fargo was expanding the business to California. While the state only had around 93,000 residents, it still would’ve been financially beneficial.

Unfortunately, Butterfield rejected the idea, which led to Wells and Fargo starting Wells Fargo & Company. American Express eventually extended their services across the country. After becoming a money order business, it slowly evolved into the billion-dollar juggernaut it is today. Using that American Express card at Wells Fargo almost feels like old friends reuniting.