historical list : “
List - Money Trust
Quiz around the telephone -
List - The Money Trust (1912)
When in 1907, a copper stock speculation scheme, initiated by the
infamous Thomas-Heinze-Morse group, burst and caused a run on the trust
companies and subsequent money shortage in the stock exchange, a banking
consortium led by J. P. Morgan & Company, the First National Bank of New
York and the National City Bank, set up an emergency fund to bail out
the trust companies and support the stock market. Thanks to such quick
action from the nation’s leading bankers, a widespread panic and ensuing
recession was avoided.
Widely hailed as the saviors of the US economy,
the great bankers,
John Pierpont Morgan,
George Fisher Baker and
James Stillman, were nevertheless
criticized by the muckracking press and their power increasingly viewed
with suspicion by political economists and liberal congressmen. One of
the deals concluded at the height of the money crisis was particularly
questioned, as it blatantly violated the Sherman anti-trust laws, which
were just then being enforced by the [Theodore] Roosevelt
Fooled into the belief that one of the nation’s
major financial institutions (The Trust Company of America) was at
stakes, the president himself authorized the acquisition by the U. S.
Steel Corporation of the smaller but strategically important Tennessee
Coal, Iron & Railroad Company. The deal which was brokered by J. P.
Morgan actually relieved the private banking and brokerage house of
Moore & Schley, whose senior partner was the brother-in-law of George F.
Baker, head of the First National Bank.
This abuse was denounced during the Taft
administration, but without consequence neither to the deal itself nor
to the persons of Elbert Henry Gary and
Henry Clay Frick, who misrepresented the facts to President
Roosevelt. Along with the creeping suspicion against the trusts, the
increasing power of a small group of New York bankers and capitalists
triggered the investigation of what was called “the Money Trust”, that
is the control of the nation’s money supply through the banking system
by a small number of extremely wealthy and influential people.
Headed by Louisiana congressman Arsène Pujo, a
liberal Democrat, the Committee on Banking and Currency of the 62nd
Congress investigated the ownership and control of the major U.S.
financial institutions in 1912. The Pujo List – Money Trust (1912) is a
result of these investigations and names the directors of the major U.S.
national banks, trust companies and life insurance societies. As
usually, the list includes all presently available information about
these people in the AW database, with links to partial or full profiles,
where applicable. It is ordered according to the estimated individual
fortunes, in declining order from the largest.
The majority of the listed people (76 out of 138)
were of course principally engaged in banking. But among the wealthiest
fifteen, only three (George
J. Pierpont Morgan and
James Stillman) were bankers. The
latter made up the triumvirate which clearly ruled Wall Street and the
American banking business.
Pierpont Morgan, the most successful US investment banker,
was thereby the overall leader. He induced many of his wealthy customers
to invest money in national banks and trust companies and join their
board of directors. Thus railroad tycoons
William Kissam Vanderbilt and James
Jerome Hill are ranked among the fifteen richest capitalists on the Pujo
list, as are U.S. Steel industrialists
Henry Clay Frick,
Daniel Gray Reid and
Edmund Coggeswell Converse.
Fisher Baker, the largest stockholder, president and later
chairman of the First National Bank and a close ally of J. Pierpont
Morgan, is the richest banker on the list. Much of his vast fortune was
invested in railroads, notably Hill’s Great Northern and Northern
Pacific. The Pujo Committee also unearthed the fact that Baker
personally served on more boards of large corporations than any other
member of the Money Trust (22 with an aggregate capitalization of
Stillman, the head of the National City Bank, then the
nation’s largest commercial bank with resources of $300’000’000, also
represented the interests of the immensely profitable Standard Oil
Company, often called “the Mother of Trusts” of which
John D. Rockefeller was the largest
shareholder. The latter was not (in 1912) a director in a major US
financial institution, but his brother
William Rockefeller, whose sons married
daughters of James Stillman, was.
Charles William Harkness, another
Standard Oil millionaire, also figures high on the Pujo list.
Altogether the partners of J. P. Morgan & Co and
the directors of the First National Bank and the National City Bank
(both of New York) then held 341 directorships in 112 of the leading
U.S. corporations (banks, insurance companies, public utilities,
railroads and industrial enterprises), with an aggregate capitalization
of $22’245’000’000*. Such were the findings of the Pujo Committee in
1912 as to the capitalistic power structure which was then tagged “The
new historical list
List - The Money Trust (1912) or other wealth classification lists
(1650 to 1950) and read more about the wealthy Americans and wealthy
American families of the past at
"Encyclopedia of American Wealth
* Source of facts and figures : Louis D. Brandeis “Other People’s Money”
Chapter II “How the Combiners Combine” (available online at the Louis D.
Brandeis School of Law Library web site – courtesy of the University of
Quiz around the telephone -
These are the answers to the Quiz
published in Chronicles of American Wealth Nr 29
1. Who was the inventor of the telephone in America ?
In this very controversial case of patent litigation, two conflicting
court decisions actually prevented that one of the above (even Alexander
Graham Bell) be definitely considered as “the” inventor of the telephone.
Technically Antonio Meucci, an Italian immigrant, had developed a device
which allowed voice communication at distance already in 1860. He
continued to work on it during the 1860s and 1870s and would have probably
been able to secure a patent before Alexander Graham Bell, or at least to
prevent the latter from securing his. But he lacked the money to do so.
Incidentally Bell’s patent was secured in his name by his wealthy
father-in-law Gardiner Greene Hubbard. An interesting fact is that Bell
worked on his invention in the same (Western Union) laboratory where
Meucci before and where the latter’s work was stored. However, whether
Bell actually had access to Meucci’s work and used that knowledge to
perfect his invention, could never be definitely asserted. In the year
2001, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution (269) which
acknowledged Meucci’s role in the invention of the telephone, without
actually calling him “the” inventor.
For more detailed explanations, see the article about Antonio Meucci at
2. Who was the first American telephone millionaire** ?
** Meaning the first to make one million dollars from the telephone
business or any share in it.
e. William Hathaway
g. John Pierpont Morgan
When the Bell Telephone Company was organized in 1877, 5000 shares were
issued to its founders. Alexander Graham Bell then transferred all but ten
of his shares to his wife-to-be Mabel Hubbard. With 1497 shares each, she
and Thomas Sanders were the largest shareholders, followed by Mabel’s
father Gardiner Greene Hubbard (1387 shares) and Thomas A. Watson (499
shares). Thomas Sanders sold his shares for just under $1’000’000 a few
years later, whereas Mabel Bell kept her shares which would be worth over
$10 million by the 1890s. She was thus the first telephone millionaire, a
privilege which could have as well been her husband’s. William Hathaway
Forbes also made several million dollars by his investment in the
successor firm American Bell Telephone Company. Elisha Gray became a
millionaire thanks to his stake in the Western Electric Company that
manufactured telephones for the Bell company, which leased them to the
users. J.P. Morgan (probably) also made (several) million dollars through
his role in introducing the American Telephone & Telegraph Company to the
New York Stock Market.
Thank you for your interest. Enjoy reading.
D. C. Shouter