John Pierpont Morgan:
The turn of the century in American, when E.L. Doctorow's novel Ragtime is set, was a time marked by rapid technological developments and industrialization. These years also brought a heavy flood of immigrants as well as an increasingly urban American landscape. Technological advancements enabled increased efficiency and mass production. However, Doctorow clearly brings into question the consequences of this new technology for the average American worker. J.P. Morgan's discussion with Henry Ford about the assembly line's innovations brings this debate to the front. Doctorow writes, "From these principles Ford established the final proposition of the theory of industrial manufacture - not only that the parts of the finished product be interchangeable, but that the men who build the products be themselves interchangeable parts" (113). Here Doctorow clearly addresses the potential for technology to undermine the value of the individual and his abilities. Banker and industrialist John Pierpont Morgan was one of the world's foremost financial figures in the decades before World War I. He organized railroads and formed the United States Steel Corporation. His wealth and financial management skills were so considerable that he was able to steer the United States Treasury from the brink of disaster. Morgan was born in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1837, and educated at the University of Gottingen in Germany. In 1871, with members of the Drexel family of Philadelphia, he organized the New York banking firm of Drexel, Morgan & Company. It began lending vast sums to railroad builders and industrial corporations in the 1880s and was later reorganized as J.P. Morgan and Company. As noted by Erin Arvedlund, he was a "natural born financier [and] loved spreading his bank account among dozens of different foreign currencies." John Pierpont Morgan and his father established a firm that was later to be known as J.P. Morgan & Co. Throughout Ragtime, E.L. Doctorow...
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