Corcoran & Riggs

City: Washington

State: DC

Established in 1840 by William Wilson Corcoran and George Washington Riggs, Corcoran & Riggs was a prominent Washington banking house that handled the personal banking of presidents John Tyler, James K. Polk, Millard Fillmore, James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln, and Andrew Johnson. In addition, Corcoran & Riggs were heavily involved in government finance. In 1845, the Treasury Department made it the only federal depository in Washington, DC. In 1845, it financed Samuel F. B. Morse's work on the telegraph, and in 1847, it lent $16 million to the federal government to underwrite the Mexican War (purchasing eighty percent of the bonds issued to wage the war). Corcoran and Riggs parted company in 1848, largely over the latter's discomfort with the last loan associated with the Mexican War. In 1854, Corcoran retired, and Riggs re-assumed sole leadership, changing the institution's name to Riggs & Company. In the 1860s, the bank financed the acquisition of Alaska.

"A Riggs Bank History: Ghost, Good Business," Washington Post (District of Columbia), 28 April 1980, accessed January 29, 2019,; Samuel Irenæus Prime, The Life of Samuel F. B. Morse, LL.D. (New York: D. Appleton, 1875), 513, 514; Janet L. Coryell, "Corcoran, William Wilson," American National Biography, ed. by John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 5:504; Olive Hoogenboom, "Riggs, George Washington," American National Biography, 18:504-505.