John Pierpont Morgan
(April 17, 1837 â€“ March 31, 1913)
was an American financier, banker, philanthropist and art collector who dominated corporate finance and industrial consolidation during his time. In 1892 Morgan arranged the merger of Edison General Electric and Thomson-Houston Electric Company to form General Electric. After financing the creation of the Federal Steel Company, he merged in 1901 with the Carnegie Steel Company and several other steel and iron businesses, including Consolidated Steel and Wire Company owned by William Edenborn, to form the United States Steel Corporation.
Morgan died in Rome, Italy, in his sleep in 1913 at the age of 75, leaving his fortune and business to his son, John Pierpont "Jack" Morgan, Jr., and bequeathing his mansion and large book collections to The Morgan Library & Museum in New York.
At the height of Morgan's career during the early 1900s, he and his partners had financial investments in many large corporations and were accused by critics of controlling the nation's high finance. He directed the banking coalition that stopped the Panic of 1907. He was the leading financier of the Progressive Era, and his dedication to efficiency and modernization helped transform American business. Morgan redefined conservatism in terms of financial prowess coupled with strong commitments to religion and high culture.
J. P. Morgan was born and raised in Hartford, Connecticut, to Junius Spencer Morgan (1813â€“1890) and Juliet Pierpont (1816â€“1884) of Boston, Massachusetts. Pierpont, as he preferred to be known, had a varied education due in part to interference by his father, Junius. In the fall of 1848, Pierpont transferred to the Hartford Public School and then to the Episcopal Academy in Cheshire, Connecticut, (now called Cheshire Academy), boarding with the principal. In September 1851, Morgan passed the entrance exam for the English High School of Boston, a school specializing in mathematics to prepare young men for careers in commerce.
In the spring of 1852, illness that was to become more common as his life progressed struck; rheumatic fever left him in so much pain that he could not walk. Junius sent Pierpont to the Azores (Portuguese islands in the Atlantic) in order for him to recover. After convalescing for almost a year, Pierpont returned to the English High School in Boston to resume his studies. After graduating, his father sent him to Bellerive, a school near the Swiss village of Vevey. When Morgan had attained fluency in French, his father sent him to the University of GÃ¶ttingen in order to improve his German. Attaining a passable level of German within six months and also a degree in art history, Morgan traveled back to London via Wiesbaden, with his education complete.
Morgan went into banking in 1857 at his father's London branch, moving to New York City in 1858 where he worked at the banking house of Duncan, Sherman & Company, the American representatives of George Peabody & Company. From 1860 to 1864, as J. Pierpont Morgan & Company, he acted as agent in New York for his father's firm. By 1864â€“1872, he was a member of the firm of Dabney, Morgan, and Company. In 1871, he partnered with the Drexels of Philadelphia to form the New York firm of Drexel, Morgan & Company. Anthony J. Drexel became Pierpont's mentor at the request of Junius Morgan.
In the early days of the American Civil War Morgan financed a scheme, known as the "Hall Carbine Affair", that purchased 5,000 dangerously defective Hall's Carbines being liquidated by the U.S. Government at a cost of .50 each. The rifles were later resold to the government as new carbines lacking the safety flaw at a cost of . The audacity of the scheme included not only the ,426 loss by the government and the selling of weapons known to maim their operators to an army in need of firearms, but the guns were also sold prior to ownership, thus the guns were paid for with money from their sale back to the government. Some authors have suggested that Morgan was somehow unaware that the guns were being resold, however scholarly opinion regards this as "implausible".
Morgan during the American Civil War was required by law to either serve himself or provide a substitute; he paid 0 for a substitute while he worked to finance the Union war effort.