John Pierpont Morgan is considered one of the founding fathers of the modern United States economy. He was an industrial genius that is accredited with the founding of many companies including General Electric and AT&T. However, Pierpont is looked upon as a saint and demon the same. He received a honorary degree from Harvard university that read: "Public citizen, patron of literature and art, prince among merchants, who by his skill, wisdom and courage, has twice in times of stress repelled a national danger of financial panic." But Robert LaFollette, the Wisconsin progressive, saw him as "a beefy, red-faced thick-necked financial bully, drunk with wealth and power." Despite conflicting opinion on his persona, his influence and character shaped the business world more so than any other person at the turn of the century. Morgan was a banker, railroad czar, industrialist, financier, philanthropist, yachtsman, and ladies' man. He was king to a handful of millionaire barons who controlled the country's wealth in an era of little government regulation.
The wealth of the Morgan family did not begin with Pierpont but with his grandfather Joseph Morgan. Joseph prospered as a hotelkeeper in Hartford, Connecticut. He helped to organize a canal company, steamboat lines and the new railroad that connected Hartford with Springfield. Finally he became one of the founders of the Aetna Fire Insurance Company. Joseph's first son was Junius Spencer Morgan, also destined for the life of a businessman. He spent a number of years as a dry-goods merchant before moving to Boston and into the foreign trade business. Junius was invited to join the firm of George Peabody & Co. in 1854. In 1864 Junius took over the Peabody Company and changed the name to J.S. Morgan & Co.
John Pierpont Morgan was born on April 17, 1837 in Hartford, Connecticut. He was nicknamed "Pip" by his childhood friends. The family prospered in Hartford until Junius moved the family to Boston where Pip began Boston English High. He did well in the prestigious high school and then in his second high school in Vevey, Switzerland. The family moved to London and John transferred to the University of Gottingen in Germany. John continued to excel in his studies and majored in mathematics. He began to become interested in business affairs as he started and investing club amongst his friends and kept strict records of his own finances.
In 1857, Junius Morgan decided to broaden his son's experience by sending him to New York. The firm of Duncan, Sherman & Co. was the American representation of the George Peabody Company. He wrote to the company asking for a position for his son and advertising the fact that his son had "many admirable qualities for a worker" To the company, J.P brought an energetic and enterprising spirit, mathematical wisdom, great confidence and a useful tie with the English banking world. In less than three years Morgan went from clerk to cashier in the company. Although, he was denied a promotion when his father requested one, he did receive a promotion in the firm later in his career. In 1860 Morgan left Duncan, Sherman and founded J. P. Morgan and Company to act as an agent for his father's business. Young Morgan had his hands full at time putting through sales of American securities on behalf of his fathers anxious English clients, who doubted if the Union would survive and wanted to unload their American holdings in. In 1864 Morgan joined up with another former businessman of Duncan, Sherman & Company. Charles Dabney and Morgan started their own company named Dabney, Morgan & Co. Morgan's business continued to grow as he intensively involves his company in more trade and commerce transactions. In 1871 Dabney retired and Anthony J. Drexel became Morgan's new senior partner. Drexel was already the head of the Philadelphia investment bank Drexel & and Company. The new company Drexel Morgan & Co. became one of the...
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