Learn what happened in business in today’s past


May 25:

1931: The New York Stock Exchange begins regularly reporting short sales. For the first time, the sale of stock by those who are betting shares will drop becomes public record. As of today, the exchange reports, 5.6 million shares have been sold short, or about 12% of the exchange's total monthly trading volume.

Barrie A. Wigmore, The Crash and Its Aftermath: A History of Securities Markets in the United States, 1929-1933 (Greenwood Press, Westport, CT, and London, 1985), pp. 239, 651.

1763: The Dismal Swamp Co., one of the first corporations in the U.S., is formed in Williamsburg, Va., issuing one share to each of its 12 founders to finance the development and resale of swampland in Virginia and North Carolina. Among the dozen charter shareholders is a young soldier and surveyor named George Washington. Despite its distinguished founders, the company earns virtually no money until 1810, then fizzles out in 1814.

Charles Royster, The Fabulous History of the Dismal Swamp Company: A Story of George Washington's Times (Knopf, New York, 1999), pp. 82, 421, 423.