The life and times of J. Pierpont Morgan

John Pierpont Morgan was a philanthropist and art collector as well as one of the country’s seminal financiers. His influence is still felt today, nearly a century after his death on March 31, 1913.

J.P. MorganJohn Pierpont Morgan was a philanthropist and art collector as well as one of the country’s seminal financiers. His influence is still felt today, nearly a century after his death on March 31, 1913. A few of his notable achievements include:

Financing industry. Drexel, Morgan & Co., a J.P. Morgan & Co. predecessor firm, financed Thomas Alva Edison’s research into a practical electric light bulb, and then helped his company incorporate. Edison’s company later merged with Thomson-Houston Electric and became known as General Electric.

Morgan was also instrumental in the mergers that created U.S. Steel and International Harvester.

The railroad industry in the late 19th century was noted for overcapacity and rate wars that threatened the system and financial markets. J. Pierpont Morgan recognized the dangers and negotiated a truce between the country’s two largest railroad competitors, New York Central and Pennsylvania Railroad. By the 1880s, Morgan had become the most influential railroad financier in the U.S.

Calming panicked markets. Morgan intervened to quell a number of financial crises, most notably the Panic of 1907. As global markets crashed, he convened New York City’s chief bankers to provide liquidity to the U.S. federal government, staving off a global economic collapse.

In 1895, following the panic of 1893, J.P. Morgan & Co. formed a syndicate to sell $65 million in gold bonds for the U.S. Treasury that helped rescue the United States from a severe two-year economic depression.

J. Pierpont Morgan died on March 31, 1913, at the age of 75, in Rome, Italy. He left his fortune and business to his son, John “Jack” Pierpont Morgan, Jr., and his house and book collection to the Morgan Library of New York. On the morning of his funeral, the New York Stock Exchange was closed until noon, an honor generally reserved for heads of state.

 

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