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-Chapter 10 : Bankers of the Gilded Age  >   Introduction and Index :    Previous  1 2 - 3 - 45   Next

Bankers II : Bankers of the Gilded Age 

Jay Cooke : Rise and Fall of a Banking Grandee
Jay Cooke -  Financier of the Union
Jay Cooke and the Northern Pacific Railroad
The House of Morgan

Jewish banking houses in America
            A short introduction about the Rothschilds
  August Belmont & Company
  J. & W. Seligman & Company
            Kuhn, Loeb & Company
            Other Jewish banking houses (coming later)
The great national banks : National City, First National and Chase National
The Mellons of Pittsburgh
A. P. Gianinni : Banker of America

From the Encyclopedia of American Wealth
            Family Profiles : Belmont - Drexel - Kuhn-Loeb - Morgan - Seligman

If the Gilded Age is rightly considered the Golden Age of railroads and the Age of Industrialization, it was also a time when our nation's banking sector went through profound change to emerge as the dominant factor in the U.S. economy.

When the guns of Civil War thundered at Bull Run (Manassas) in July 1861  and the assumed superior Northern forces suffered an unexpected but not decisive defeat, it became clear that this war would not end anytime soon and that vast resources would have to be mobilized to win it. The larger population, better railroad infrastructure and concentration of factories were widely regarded as the decisive factors which eventually led the Union side to victory over the rebel Confederation of Southern States. But the raise of money to finance the exceptional war effort was in many ways as critical and decisive to the Union victory.

If the Union victory on the financial front was to be attributed to one man, this would be Jay Cooke, who sold more federal bonds to the common people than any of the nation's leading banking houses could have marketed to the country's rich. The son of a US Representative from Sandusky, Ohio started his career as a banker and broker at E.W. Clark & Company of Philadelphia. He opened Jay Cooke & Company in January 1861 and consequently became involved in the sale of civil war bonds on behalf of the Federal Treasury Department. Using widespread newspaper advertising and appealing to the people's patriotism, Jay Cooke sold well over $ 1 billion government war bonds between 1863 and 1865. Whilst generals Grant and Sherman won the war in their military victories over the Confederate armies of Robert E. Lee and J.E. Johnston, Jay Cooke almost single handedly financed the Union war machinery by his bond sales campaigns.

The decade following Civil War was characterized by both rapid expansion, fuelled by the winning of the West after the completion of the first transcontinental railroad, and severe depression following the banking crisis of 1873, which itself resulted from overextension, speculative excesses and mischief, notably the infamous "Credit Mobilier" scandal. Incidentally, the panic of 1873 was precipitated by the failure of J. Cooke & Co, which was due to its entanglement in the Northern Pacific railroad project. As a consequence, a new power emerged in American banking, a combination which would define and dominate the U.S. investment banking sector during the Gilded Age.

John Pierpont Morgan was the son of a wealthy American banker, partner and successor of the venerable George Peabody, whose private banking house in London was one of the city's foremost financiers of Anglo-American commerce, along with the Barings and Brown Brothers. His grandfather Joseph Morgan had already been a wealthy hotel owner and realtor at Hartford, Connecticut as well as a founder of the Aetna Fire Insurance Company.

Bankers of the Gilded Age >   Introduction and Index :   Previous  1 2 - 3 - 45  Next

The Mining Bonanza Kings

The Railroad Barons

The Trusts



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