JP Morgan is one of the first and largest names that comes to memory when you think about banking and the growth of capitalism in the United States. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. is the largest bank in the United States, headquartered out of New York City. The bank was founded by J.P. Morgan, the legendary financier, who used his power and influence to dominate every industry he touched.
John Pierpont Morgan Sr. (April 17, 1837 – March 31, 1913) was an American financier and banker who dominated corporate finance and industrial consolidation in the United States of America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. (source: wikipedia)
During the Panic of 1893, it was J.P. Morgan & Co. that led a bond offering which rescued the United States from a major two-year economic depression. The depression and crisis were caused by a railroad boom and bubble bursting, causing a number of banks to fail, and a rush to buy gold.
J. Pierpont Morgan formed an international syndicate to buy gold and protect the US Treasury from further withdrawals. Through his efforts, he was able to avert crises and restore confidence in the dollar, which would protect the billions invested in the United States and restore the channels for foreign capital.
Instead of listening to Morgan, President Grover Cleveland instead compelled Congress to authorize gold bonds for sale.
As the situation grew worse, Morgan advised the president he had located a still-valid 1862 law, passed during the Civil War, that authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to issue bonds and buy gold coins without needing congressional approval.
President Cleveland asked if Morgan could guarantee that the gold being purchased would not simply join the flow out of the country (and dollar). This led the financier to sign a contract which he knew he could guarantee using his connections and influence.
Less than two weeks after signing the contract, J.P Morgan & Co. led a network of bankers to sell $65 million in U.S. bonds to buy back gold from foreign investors. The firm offered the bonds for sale at $112.25 and sold out the entire issue of in New York within 22 minutes.
That is one example of many in which J.P. Morgan shaped the economy in the United States using loopholes, power, influence, and his vast network of wealthy financiers.
There are few characters in history who have had such significant impacts on the world around them as J. Pierpont Morgan, so it’s important to know as much about him as possible.
Here are 25 amazing facts about J.P. Morgan:
1. J. P. Morgan joined the banking business in 1857, following his father’s footsteps. His father J. S. Morgan had already established the merchant banking firm, Peabody, Morgan & Co, in collaboration with George Peabody in the late 1850s.
2. In the year, 1871, Anthony J. Drexel became J. P. Morgan’s mentor and collaborated in a partnership firm, Drexel, Morgan & Company. It was after the death of Drexel that the company was renamed as J. P. Morgan & Company in the year 1895.
3. By 1900, J. P. Morgan & Company had established itself as a powerful banking house. And, its special focus was on the consolidation and reorganization of companies.
4. It was also within the year 1900 that J. P. Morgan had half of the railroads of the country under his control, in addition to his interests in 24 different companies, that ran over 100,000 miles of track.
5. The term, “Morganization” became prevalent as Morgan took over troubled businesses, reorganized them and set them on track to make profits. His interest in companies also encouraged investors to make investments in the ailing companies.
6. In 1891, J. P. Morgan’s friend John King was rejected by the Union Club, which was considered to be a prestigious club at that time. Thus, Morgan founded the Metropolitan Club on the 5th Avenue land that he donated. Notably, the land was worth $125,000.
7. It was J. P. Morgan, who facilitated the merger of Edison General Electric and Thomson-Houston Electric Company in the year 1892. The merger led to the formation of General Electric, as we know it today.
8. The formation of the United States Steel Corporation, as well as, the AT&T are also feathers in J. P. Morgan’s hat as he was the one who formulated these creations.
9. The year 1903 saw Columbia handing over control of Panama after President Theodore Roosevelt’s perusal. After the formation of the independent Republic of Panama, it was J.P. Morgan & Company, who was appointed as the fiscal agents for the management of the government aid that totaled $10 million.
10. It was Morgan who bailed out the US economy after the Panic of 1903. He provided 3.5 million ounces of gold to the US Treasury to help during the financial crisis.
11. Again in 1907, the United States economy was once again in a similar position as 1903. This time, J. P. Morgan convinced the top financiers to bail out several financial institutions and thereby stabilize the markets.
12. It was also the crisis and the power that Morgan showcased, that led to the creation of the Federal Reserve System by the bankers and the politicians.
13. Morgan wanted to build an underground railway in London and for the same, he even applied for parliamentary authority. However, it was Charles Tyson Yerkes who outdid him.
14. The private residence of J. P. Morgan at 219 Madison Avenue was the first residence in New York to have electricity.
15. J. P. Morgan & Co. entered the shipping trade with the formation of the International Mercantile Marine Company (IMMC). However, the sinking of its subsidiary, White Star Line, which owned the Titanic, led to financial disasters and the IMMC went bankrupt.
16. J. P. Morgan was the owner of White Star Line and he even had his trip planned on the ill-fated ship, Titanic, which sank after hitting an iceberg. Luckily enough, Morgan chooses to cancel his trip and did not board on the ship.
17. Morgan was a collector of art like paintings, pictures, art objects, clocks and a lot more. He also loved collecting books and it was after his death that his son, J. P. organ Jr. turned his private library into Pierpont Morgan Library, as a memorial to his father in 1924.
18. Additionally, Morgan was also an avid collector of gems. His first collection was assembled and exhibited by Tiffany & Co. The collection which was also exhibited at the World’s Fair in Paris in the year 1889, where it received two golden awards.
19. J. P. Morgan disliked publicity. He was extremely conscious about his rosacea and hated being photographed too.
20. However, J. P. Morgan was a fan of photography and had commissioned photographer Edward S. Curtis, offering $75,000 to create a series on the American Indians, way back in 1906.
21. It is suggested that Rich Uncle Pennybags of Monopoly is modeled after Morgan.
22. J. P. Morgan has a gemstone named after him. It is the gemstone morganite.
23. It was J. P. Morgan’s uncle, James L. Pierpont, who wrote the popular Christmas carol, “Jingle Bells.”
24. Morgan died in his sleep while he was in Rome. His body was brought back to his home in New York and he was given an honor, usually reserved for leaders of the state. In his honor, the New York Stock Exchange remained closed for two hours and even the flags on Wall Street were half hosted.
25. J. P. Morgan’s founded company, which we now know as J. P. Morgan Chase & Co. is one of the four biggest banks in the United States and is also considered to be the universal bank with total assets amounting to US$2.5 trillion.
These are some of the lesser-known facts about the legendary J. P. Morgan, who is known for his dominant role in corporate finance and also for the transformation of American business with his efficiency and dedication towards modernization. He is indeed rightly called America’s greatest banker.
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