A Classification of American Wealth
History and genealogy of the wealthy families of America - Sponsors

 Part 1 : Colonial and Mercantile America  Part 2 : America in the Gilded Age
 Part 3 : America in the Twentieth Century  Encyclopedia of American Wealth

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  Part II : The Gilded Age  >   Introduction and Index :   Previous  1 2 - 3 - 45 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9  Next

J.Pierpont Morgan was another monument of the Gilded Age. This son of a wealthy merchant banker joined forces with the Drexels of Philadelphia in 1873 to precipitate the fall of Jay Cooke, the patriot banker and Union bond broker now hopelessly entangled in the building of the Northern Pacific railroad. Morgan then became the peacemaker in the railroad wars of the 1880's, having gained the Vanderbilts' confidence in a transaction involving the sale of 100'000 New York Central shares in London and benefiting from the Drexels' introduction at the Pennsylvania.

Drexel, Morgan & Company became J.P.Morgan & Company in 1893, the nation's premier investment bank. It actively participated in the reorganization of railroads and in the consolidation of industries and public utilities. When he created United States Steel in 1901, the first American corporation with a capitalization exceeding $ 1 billion, John Pierpont Morgan wielded more power than any other American capitalist and indeed and other man in the World. Morgan creations also included General Electric, International Harvester and the reorganization of American Telephone & Telegraph Company. The Titanic was a ship of the International Mercantile Maritime trust, a corporation J.P. Morgan sponsored in 1902.

In many ways, the Gilded Age was also the age of the banker, who evolved from trade financier to railroad consolidator and organizer of industrial corporations. Morgan was the greatest and most charismatic of the great investment bankers of his time, but he was in no means the only one, and he was also not the richest. The superlative among the bankers in terms of wealth fell to the Mellon brothers of Pittsburgh. Andrew William Mellon and Richard Beatty Mellon took active participations of more than the usual token value in the enterprises they financed. They were major stockholders in the fabulously successful Gulf Oil corporation and the Aluminum Company of America. Their aggregate wealth exceeded $ 1 billion before the stock market crash of 1929.

The Gilded Age saw also the rise of the great commercial banks, most of them located in New York. Moses Taylor built the City Bank into New York's largest and made himself a 40 million dollar fortune. James Stillman, who took the presidency of the National City Bank in 1891, built its assets to the $ 1 billion mark. George Fisher Baker did not found the First National Bank of New York, but he became its largest shareholder and head from 1877 until his death in 1930. These banks later merged to form the First National City Bank of New York, nowadays known as Citicorp.

The Gilded Age also saw the establishment of Jewish banking houses in America, where they had long been absent, or at least much less influent than in Europe. August Belmont was the agent of the Rothschilds in New York and in this position, one of the most influent Jewish banker in America. The Seligmans were merchandise peddlers and clothing merchants before establishing their international banking house J & W Seligman & Company.

But the largest and most influential American Jewish banking house was Kuhn, Loeb & Co of New York. Founded by Abraham Kuhn and Solomon Loeb in 1867, the firm was later directed by Jacob Henry Schiff (1847-1920) who sided with E.H. Harriman in 1901 against J.Pierpont Morgan and James Jerome Hill in the battle for the Northern Pacific. Kuhn, Loeb & Company was related to the house of M.M. Warburg of Hamburg, Germany. The main partners of Kuhn, Loeb & Co were interrelated by marriage as was quite usual in Jewish American businesses at the time.

The Gilded Age  >   Introduction and Index :   Previous  1 2 - 3 - 45 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9  Next

The Mining Bonanza Kings

The Railroad Barons

The Trusts



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