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Mon, 12.01.2003

Lehman Brothers Acknowledge’ Its Slavery Past

receipt for transaction

*On this date in 2003, Lehman Brothers became the first contractor with the city of Chicago to acknowledge past ties to slavery. This admission was under a law requiring disclosure.

Lehman Brothers is a finance corporation that works with business' governments, municipalities, institutional clients, and high-net-worth individuals worldwide. An affidavit filed by the financial services firm said that the three brothers who founded the company bought at least one female slave and "may have personally owned other slaves." The Lehman family members were Alabama cotton brokers.

In 1850 three Jewish brothers founded Lehman Brothers Investments, acquiring their capital and wealth by investing and trading in cotton. Three sons moved to New York City in 1858, where they later helped to establish the New York Cotton Exchange (1870). In October 2002, the Chicago City Council passed a groundbreaking ordinance that companies working with the city to disclose whether they ever profited from slavery. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that New York-based Lehman Brothers disclosed in connection with its role as co-manager of a $145 million O'Hare Airport bond issue in Chicago.

Officials said city contractors had filed over 2,000 slavery disclosure affidavits, but Lehman Brothers were the first to acknowledge ties to slavery. Experts say the Lehman Brothers' disclosure could encourage people to seek reparations from the firm.

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