The Buttonwood Agreement, which took place on May 17, 1792, was an effort to organize securities trading in New York City that preceded the formation of the New York Stock & Exchange Board now called the New York Stock Exchange. This agreement was signed by 24 stockbrokers outside of 68 Wall Street. According to legend the signing took place under a buttonwood tree, but this tree may never have existed.
In brief, the agreement had two provisions: 1) the brokers were to deal only with each other, thereby eliminating the auctioneers, and 2) the commissions were to be 0.25%. It reads as follows:
We the Subscribers, Brokers for the Purchase and Sale of the Public Stock, do hereby solemnly promise and pledge ourselves to each other, that we will not buy or sell from this day for any person whatsoever, any kind of Public Stock, at a less rate than one quarter percent Commission on the Specie value and that we will give preference to each other in our Negotiations. In Testimony whereof we have set our hands this 17th day of May at New York, 1792.
The document is part of the archival collection of the New York Stock Exchange. The Virtual Museum and Archive of the History of Financial Regulation of The Securities and Exchange Commission Historical Society does have this image.
The twenty-four brokers (also known as, Founding and Subsequent Fathers) who signed the Buttonwood Agreement were (including business location):