J. P Morgan, the figurative father of New York City, dominated the nation and played an essential role in its image building such as with the Hudson-Fulton Celebration that showcased his powerful domain. His imprints are still visible on the American economy. Morgan not only changed the future of American finance but also contributed to the current American lifestyle.
James Piermont Morgan, an influential American financier, banker and philanthropist, was born on 17th April 1837 in Hartford, Connecticut. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he never faced poverty. He always lived in luxury since his birth as his father was a successful banker and owner of JM Beebe, the biggest dry goods exporter. James was sent to Switzerland and Germany for studies where he excelled in mathematics. Although his father moved to London to work at the London Bank, he remained in full contact with his son. His father taught him the ways of business and all the clever traits of a banker. At 21, James went to learn American banking from the top financial house in New York, ‘Sherman and Co.’
James started on the road to unstoppable financial dominance in 1871 when he made a deal with Anthony Drexel to launch ‘Drexel, Morgan and Co.’ that became ‘J. P Morgan and Co.’ after Drexel’s death. In its first year the company shifted to 23 Wall Street. The land was purchased for one million dollars, an unimaginably expensive deal for that time. The company flourished immensely and it seemed to be untouched by the economic conditions. Along with his financial influence, James came forward as a bigoted political force. In 1873 he funded 1400 million dollars’ worth of bonds to assist in the Civil War debt making him a factor in the steadiness of the whole nation.
James took over failing businesses to reorganize their business structure and management edifice to make them more profitable. His reputation as a financier and banker interested the investors in the business he bought. James helped Adolph Simon Ochs, the owner of the Chattanooga Times, to buy the struggling New York Times, that later set the high standards of American reporting. In 1895, the Federal Treasury was out of its gold when James offered Grover Cleveland to collaborate with ‘Rothschilds’ (the European banking dynasty) that provided them with 3.5 million ounces of gold.
James bought Carnegie Co. in 1900 and merged it with various steel, mining, shipping and coal firms to found the United States Steel Corporation. By 1901, it was the world’s first billion-dollar company. The Panic of 1907 literally crippled the American economy and almost all banks in New York were announcing bankruptcy when James intervened resolving the predicament. Morgan’s control over the city was openly declared. Unless Morgan approved of a company, it could not survive in the market. This dominance had a major advantage for Hudson-Fulton Commission, which received a large part of its funding from the main organizations and rich individuals. James was continuously growing in his riches along with gathering huge amount of money from others due to his influence and good connections. James also had authority of the railroad industry largely benefitting Hudson-Fulton.
As the twentieth century began, James was in complete control of 70% of the steel industry, 1/5th of the trading corporations on the New York Stock Exchange, 3 of the country’s biggest insurance companies and many banks including Morgan Co. The finance legend died in 1913 at the age of 75.