The mercantile agency in the United States is a comprehensive organization and came into existence after the financial crisis of 1837. Trade in the United States had become scattered over a wide territory, communications were slow, and town merchants lacked adequate information as to the standing of many businessmen seeking credit. The severity of the collapse of 1837 was partly caused by to the insufficiency of that information. New York City merchants had suffered so severely that they were determined to organize a headquarters where reports regarding the standing of customers could be exchanged. Lewis Tappan, the founder of the Journal of Commerce (1828) and a prominent abolitionist leader, undertook the work by establishing there in 1841 the Mercantile Agency, the first organization of its kind. The system has been developed and extended since.Today it is known as Dun and Bradstreet, a billion-dollar corporation.