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MORGAN, John Pierpont [1837-1913] -- American banker and financier

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Son of Junius Spencer and Juliet (Pierpont) Morgan, and father of John Pierpont Morgan, jr. ¤ [1867-1943]. He was graduated from the English high school, Boston, Mass., in 1854, and attended the University of Göttingen, Germany, 1854-56. In 1857 he returned to the United States and obtained employment in the private banking house of Duncan, Sherman and Company, of New York city. In 1860 he was appointed the American agent and attorney for George Peabody & Co., of London, England (afterward J. S. Morgan & Co.), and in 1864 he was admitted a member of the firm of Dabney, Morgan & Co., of New York. He formed a combination with the Drexels of Philadelphia under the firm name of Drexel, Morgan & Co., in 1871, and in 1895 he became head of the firm of J.P. Morgan & Co. His father died in 1890, leaving the London house of J. S. Morgan & Co., and the Paris branch of Morgan, Hayes & Co., under the sole management of J.P. Morgan. This European connection enabled the American firm to do a large business in foreign exchange. In 1869 Mr. Morgan defeated Jay Gould in a contest for the control of the Albany and Susquehanna railroad, and became prominent in railroad matters. He made a specialty of the reorganization of bankrupt railroads, including the West Shore, Philadelphia and Reading, Richmond Terminal, the Erie and the New England railroads. He was also identified in the distribution of government bonds, and in 1877 in co-operation with August Belmont and the Rothschilds, floated $260,000,000 in U.S. four percent bonds, thus relieving the government from serious financial embarrassment. After the financial panic of 1893, the gold of the country becoming very scarce and threatening the stability of the treasury, he joined with other prominent bankers in buying $200,000,000 worth of government bonds and paying for them in gold. This transaction undoubtedly preserved the credit of the United States, but Morgan and his associates were denounced by the public and in congress for the large amount of commission asked for the service. In the threatened panic of 1896 he again offered his services and supported the administration in the funding of a popular loan. Previous to 1899 the United States had been a borrower from London, the money center of the world, but in 1899 Morgan undertook the first foreign loan negotiated in this country, consisting of the entire foreign debt of Mexico, amounting to $110,000,000, and in 1900 he supplied Great Britain with $12,000,000 in U.S. bonds. In 1900 he organized the United States Steel corporation, the largest combination in the world, with a capital of $1,300,000,000, of which $1,100,000,000 was issued in capital stock. In 1902 he organized a syndicate embracing at least seven of the leading transatlantic steamship lines, capitalizing the trust at about $200,000,000; and in the same year he financed an underground railroad system in London involving several millions of dollars. He became a director of:

  • the National Bank of Commerce,
  • the New York Central and Hudson River railroad,
  • the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern railroad,
  • the West Shore railroad,
  • the New York, New Haven and Hartford railroad,
  • the Pullman Palace Car company,
  • the Mexican Telegraph company,
  • the Western Union Telegraph company,
  • the Manufacturing Investment company,
  • the Federal Steel company,
  • the General Electric company,
  • the Madison Square Garden company,
  • and the Metropolitan Opera House company.
His gifts include:
  • $2,000,000 to the University of the South (1902);
  • $1,000,000 to the Harvard Medical school;
  • $1,350,000 for a lying-in hospital near St. George's church, N.Y.;
  • $500,000 to St. John's cathedral;
  • $100,000 to the Young Men's Christian association;
  • $500,000 to the Loomis hespital for consumptives;
  • $100,000 for a library in Holyoke, Mass.;
  • $125,000 for preserving the palisades along the Hudson river;
  • $300,000 for a new Parish house and rectory for St. George's church;
  • $500,000 to the New York Trades Training school
and many other large benefactions. He contributed largely to the Galveston Relief fund; to the Queen Victoria memorial fund, and presented to the Metropolitan Museum of Art a rare collection of Greek ornaments valued at $200,000. He was one of the chief patrons in the international yachting contests for the America's cup; was commodore of the New York yacht club, and owner of the steam-yacht Corsair, one of the largest and finest pleasure boats afloat, which he presented to the government for use during the war with Spain. He was twice married: first, Oct. 7, 1861, to Amelia, daughter of Jonathan and Mary Pemberton (Cody) Sturges, of New York; and secondly, May 31, 1865, to Frances Louisa, daughter of Charles and Louisa (Kirkland) Stacy. In January, 1902, he purchased for $500,000 Raphael's famous "Madonna of St. Anthony of Padua" from the heirs of King Ferdinand II. of Naples; and in the same year he was made an officer of the Legion of Honor of France.  -30-
 

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