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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  Chronicles of American Wealth / Nr 7 / August 3, 2002 

<<  List of chronicles   

Content :
1 -
Now Online : Chapter 9 – Organizers of the Trusts
2 - A profile of James Buchanan Duke – duke of American Tobacco


NOW ONLINE : The Organizers of the Trusts

In the Age of Industry, as the Gilded Age was called by some historians, the trusts had a very special place. They were the first form of industrial consolidation, which characterized the era and led to modern America. Successful entrepreneurs learned to “organize” their industries, realizing economies of scale and using their bargaining power to extort huge profits from consumers and producers likewise. One of the first and by far the most famous trust was John Davison Rockefeller’s Standard Oil. Founded in 1870 to succeed the partnership of Rockefeller, Andrews & Flagler, Standard Oil became the most powerful and profitable of the infamous American trusts. Starting as a loose association of powerful oil refiners, Standard Oil formalized under the trust agreement of 1882 and later successfully dodged the Sherman anti trust laws by using a former subsidiary, Standard Oil of New Jersey, as a holding company. By the turn of the century, most industrial sectors were dominated by a single large company or group of companies, which sought monopoly by various means, such as price fixing, secret rebates from railroads or plain acquisition frenzy.  In addition to Standard Oil, the major industrial trusts in America were : American Tobacco, American Sugar Refing, American Smelting & Refining; United States Steel and Amalgamated Copper.

Read more about Standard Oil, the American Tobacco Company and other industrial trusts of the Gilded Age at “A Classification of American Wealth”.


Profile of a trust organizer : James Buchanan Duke – duke of American Tobacco

James Buchanan Duke ( 1857-1925 ) , New York City, New York

Parents   Washington Duke and  Artelia Roney
Married   Lilian Fletcher McCready 
   Nanaline Holt Inman (1871-1962)
Children :  Doris (Duke) Cromwell Rubirosa (1912-1993)
Fortune     140 000 000    $  1925
  : Tobacco
Main property
   : American Tobacco Co (pres 1889-1912)
Other activities : Utilities
Associated properties : Continental Tobacco (p 1898), Consolidated Tobacco (1901), British American Tobacco (chmn 1912-), Southern Power Co (pres), Union Bleaching & Finishing Co
Philanthropy : Duke Endowment  of $ 40 million for Duke University

As a teenager, James Buchanan Duke peddled his father’s tobacco around North Carolina. When he grew up, he joined the family firm Washington Duke Sons & Co and built it into America’s largest cigarette maker. In 1890 he merged the business with four other firms to create the American Tobacco Company, the core of the tobacco trust. Through his association with leading financiers, such as Oliver Hazard Payne of Standard Oil and Thomas Fortune Ryan of the street railway ring, Duke managed to build American Tobacco into a near monopoly, controlling 90% of the tobacco products sold in the USA and 40-60% abroad. Duke’s American Tobacco trust was dissolved in 1911 and the magnate thereafter invested into the electrification of the North Carolina Piedmont, creating Duke Power. Towards the end of his life, James Buchanan Duke, now a multi-millionaire funded Duke College at Durham NC with $ 40 million. Duke married late in his life and died when his only child, a daughter named Doris, was just 13 years old. He left a 100 million dollar fortune of which Doris Duke was the main heiress, making her the richest girl in America.

Read more about James Buchanan Duke and how he built the American Tobacco trust at “A Classification of American Wealth” or browse “Encyclopedia of American Wealth” for more profiles of wealthy Americans and their families.



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