J.P. Morgan

Nation: United States


Birth Date: April 17, 1837
United States J.P. Morgan Businessman Cover
I. Ancestry and Birth
II. Rise in Banking Industry
III. Business Achievements and Legacy
IV. Patron of the Arts
[1901 book] Visits to France
I. Ancestry and Birth
Miles Morgan was the founder of the family in New England which would later bear John Pierpont Morgan. Miles Morgan was born probably in Llandaff, Glamorganshire, Wales about 1615. Accompanying his older brother James Morgan, who settled in New London, Connecticut, and John Morgan, who went to Virginia, he sailed from Bristol, England and arrived in Boston in April 1636.

On April 17, 1837, John Pierpont Morgan was born in Hartford, Connecticut. He was the only son of Junius Spencer and Juliet (Pierpont) Morgan. He was educated in the English high school in Boston and then studied in the University of Gottingen, Germany, before returning to the United States at twenty years of age.

Fitch, C. E. (1916). Morgan, John Pierpont. In Memorial encyclopedia of the state of New York (Vol. 2, pp. 45-47). Boston: The American Historical Society, Inc.
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II. Rise in Banking Industry
J.P. Morgan engaged in the banking business with Duncan Sherman & Company, of New York City, in 1857, and there obtained a full knowledge of finance in a house which at that time was one of the most prominent in the country. In 1860, he became American agent and attorney for George Peabody & Company, of London, with which house his father was connected, and in 1864 he engaged in banking on his own account in the firm of Dabney, Morgan & Company. In 1871, he became a member of the famous banking house of Drexel, Morgan & Company, the name of which in 1895 was changed to J. P. Morgan & Company. At the same time, he was also a member of the firm of J. S. Morgan & Company, of London, of which his father was the founder. Upon the death of his parent, he succeeded him in that concern. Thus he was head of the greatest private bank in America, and of one of the most influential monetary institutions in England.

Fitch, C. E. (1916). Morgan, John Pierpont. In Memorial encyclopedia of the state of New York (Vol. 2, p. 47). Boston: The American Historical Society, Inc.
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III. Business Achievements and Legacy
Morgan's preeminence as a banker and financier was recognized for nearly a quarter of a century. In those respects he was one of the most potent powers that the United States has ever known, and rivaled even the strongest men in Europe. In the wonderful industrial and financial development which characterized the closing years of the nineteenth century in the United States, and especially in the development of that movement toward the consolidation of industrial enterprises, Morgan was not only prominent, but it is not too much to say that, at that time, he exercised the most powerful and helpful influence ever displayed by any man in the financial history of the country.

Particularly will his genius and indefatigable labors in the organization and development of the United States Steel Corporation be long remembered as a masterly achievement, and, in the opinion of many, as laying the substantial foundation for the great industrial prosperity of the country which followed in the years immediately after this accomplishment.

Morgan was connected with nearly all notable financial undertakings of his time, and his influence was always of the soundest character and conducive to the public welfare as well as to the investing interests. A list of the important reorganizations of railroad companies, the negotiations of loans, and the underwriting of industrial enterprises which have been handled by him would be long and imposing. Also in public affairs were his services to the country of inestimable value. Especially in 1894 and 1895, and at other times of threatened monetary stringency, he contributed substantially and effectively to protecting the credit of the United States treasury.

Although, when the banking disturbances which developed in New York City in the autumn of 1907 threatened to overwhelm the entire country with supreme disaster, he had been largely retired from active participation in affairs, Morgan came forward again to save the situation. In the grave emergency which then arose he took the lead in measures instituted to prevent the widespread destruction of public credit and overthrow of industrial and financial institutions that was imminent. His leadership in those trying days was unreservedly accepted by men who were foremost in the financial world in New York City, and as well throughout the United States. Among his associates he was relied upon for initiative and for powerful influence, and even the national administration depended upon his advice and his assistance.

After the battle had been won and confidence restored, it was everywhere recognized that his financial genius and his masterly control of men and affairs had been the main instruments in saving the country, if not the world, from the worst disaster that had impended for a generation. The great masters of finance in London, Paris, and other monetary centers of Europe did not withhold their warmest praise and endorsement of his accomplishment, while his associates in the American fields of finance and industry have been profuse in acknowledgment of the preeminent service that he rendered to the country.

Morgan was also a large investor in the great business enterprises of the country, and a director in more than forty financial, railroad, and industrial corporations. Typically foremost among the enterprises in which he held important interests and exercised pronounced influence in the direction of their affairs were the following: The United States Steel Corporation, the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad Company, the First National Bank of the City of New York, the General Electric Company, the Lake Erie & Western Railroad Company, the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railway Company, the Michigan Central Railroad Company, the National Bank of Commerce of New York, the New York & Harlem River Railroad Company, the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad Company, the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Company, the West Shore Railroad Company, and the Western Union Telegraph Company.

Fitch, C. E. (1916). Morgan, John Pierpont. In Memorial encyclopedia of the state of New York (Vol. 2, pp. 47-49). Boston: The American Historical Society, Inc.
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IV. Patron of the Arts
A man of broad culture and refined tastes, Morgan did not confine himself to business affairs. He was particularly interested in art, being one of its most generous patrons, and one of the accomplished connoisseurs of the world. Some of the finest works of the great masters of olden times and of the present were owned by him. His collection of art objects was recognized as one of the largest, most important, and most valuable ever brought together by a single private individual. A considerable part of this great collection was acquired during the ten years or so preceding 1908, and has been kept in Kensington Museum, London, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York City, and in Morgan's private galleries in London and New York. It consists not only of rare and valuable paintings, but exquisite porcelains, marble reliefs, bronzes, enamels, fabrics, and other objects.

Fitch, C. E. (1916). Morgan, John Pierpont. In Memorial encyclopedia of the state of New York (Vol. 2, p. 49). Boston: The American Historical Society, Inc.
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[1901 book] Visits to France
When on the European side of the Atlantic, Mr. Morgan frequently slips away to some quiet place in France, and is very fond of Normandy, sometimes staying for long periods in the quaint old town of Dinan. An amusing story is related of him in connection with one of his visits to Dinan. He employed a local photographer to develop a number of views that he had been taking with his camera, but the photographer did not know the financier and hesitated whether he should complete the work or not before having some assurance that he was going to be paid for it. So he went down to the local bank and asked the manager if he happened to know anything about a gentleman named Morgan.

"An American?" asked the manager.

"Yes," replied the photographer. "Mr. — what is it? — ah, Pierpont Morgan."

"Precisely," replied the manager. "Well, we know all we want to know about him."

"Oh, monsieur, will it be safe to trust him for three hundred francs?"

"Trust him!" cried the banker, "trust him for anything and everything he takes it into his head to dream of."

Of course, after that the photographer returned to his little shop and told his wife that he thought they might proceed with the work on Mr. Morgan's plates, and the next day when Mr. Morgan came he ordered dozens of prints and some big enlargements, and then remarked as he was a total stranger it would perhaps be best for him to leave a deposit on future orders, and he took out an enormous roll of money and laid down a thousand-franc note. After that his fame spread about the countryside, and people used to sit up at nights to talk about him.

When out in these remote districts of Normandy Mr. Morgan makes himself very friendly with the country people, stops at the farmers' houses frequently, and has long chats with the old people, now and then picking up some old Norman carved panels or curios, and dealing handsomely by the people from whom he purchases them.

"How much do you want for this, madam?" he will say.

"It's not for sale," the woman will frequently answer.

"How much will you take for it?" he will insist.

"Oh, it isn't worth anything," the old woman will protest, not knowing of course who her visitor is.

"I want to buy it," he will go on.

"But, monsieur, it isn't for sale."

"Oh yes, it is," he will say; "here's a thousand francs." And off he will trudge, leaving the woman astounded.

Burnley, J. (1901). Restless resting. In Millionaires and kings of enterprise (pp. 90-91). London: Harmsworth Brothers, Limited.
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