by Pam Martens
Wall Street on Parade
Imagine how you might feel if you were part of a distinguished family that built a respected business over 120 years only to see it gobbled up against your wishes by a banking behemoth, Wachovia, which collapsed a year later and was then forced into a shotgun wedding with another mega bank, Wells Fargo. Today, the Senate Banking Committee will put the finishing touches on this tragic tale of how a fine St. Louis family, the Edwards, lost control of their legacy of putting the customer first, to end up as part of a company now being shamed for opening two million fake accounts that were never authorized by its customers.
The Edwards family story will not be part of today’s Senate hearing, but one can easily imagine that five generations of Edwards will be looking down from heaven today on the proceedings and cursing one name: Bob Bagby, the man who orchestrated the sale of the 120-year old brokerage firm, A.G. Edwards & Sons to Wachovia in 2007.
Albert Gallatin Edwards, the founder of A.G. Edwards & Sons in 1887, was the son of Illinois Governor Ninian W. Edwards. The Edwards family shared a close friendship with Abraham Lincoln and he and Mary Todd were married in the Edwards home on November 4, 1842. Before founding A.G. Edwards with his son, Benjamin F. Edwards, Albert Gallatin served as Assistant Treasury Secretary under Lincoln and four subsequent presidents. He knew a thing or two about banking.