Originally founded in the United States in 1850 as a convenience store, Lehman Brothers developed to become a powerhouse of global banking for over a century. In 1844 Henry Lehman emigrated to the United States from Rimpar in Bavaria and founded a shop selling assorted goods in Montgomery, Alabama. He was soon joined by two more brothers, Mayer and Emanuel. Following Henry's death, the two brothers steered the company towards the path of success, at first by focusing on the local cotton trade. By 1858 they had an office in New York, and a decade later it was their headquarters. In 1870, Mayer Lehman was one of the founder members and first governors of the New York Cotton Exchange - the earliest commodities exchange in that city, which still exists to this day. By the First World War the company had developed into what was primarily an investment bank and throughout the 20th and early 21st century, they grew to become one of the largest global companies in the field of global financial services.
Shortly after midnight in New York on Monday 15 September 2008, Lehman Brothers Holdings announced that it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection - the largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history, with Lehman holding over $600 billion in assets. In the United Kingdom and Europe, the investment bank went into administration sending shock waves around the financial markets and triggering the biggest banking crisis since the Great Depression.