J.P. Morgan - Banking and Investment
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John Pierpont Morgan
J.P. Morgan - Money Man

   John Pierpont Morgan's life ran from before the Civil War until the early 1900s.  In that time, his business skill helped put together what are still some of America's best known companies, including General Electric and U.S. Steel.  Once he personally stepped in to save the U.S. government's finances from collapse, and another time he organized efforts to prevent the collapse of the nation's banking system.  He helped create one of New York City's great art museums, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and was himself an expert collector of art, books, and gems. 

   This from a man who, although enjoying much success, suffered terrible embarrassment because his nose was badly deformed by a skin condition that could not be cured.  Photos of him were often re-touched to minimize the condition.

Investing in the light bulb

   Thomas Edison invented the first useful light bulb, but moving an invention from a few samples into a national business takes a lot of money and business knowledge. 

   J.P. Morgan's investment company put up millions of dollars that made it possible for Edison to expand light bulb production, and build the large generating stations needed to supply electric power for the bulbs. 

   Some of the businesses that grew out of Edison's inventions were later combined under Morgan's leadership to form the General Electric company.

   The photo shows Thomas Edison in his laboratory.  

A billion $ steel business

   When Andrew Carnegie decided to retire from the steel business in 1901, J.P. Morgan made the deal to buy Carnegie Steel for $480 million dollars.

   Morgan and his investment company combined Carnegie's company with several other businesses to form the United States Steel Corporation.  The new company was the largest business in the world, worth over a billion dollars.

   The photo shows one of Carnegie's steel mills that became part of U.S. Steel.

He had his critics

   This political cartoon shows J.P. Morgan holding a basket of big businesses his investment company controlled, including a shipping line, railroad lines, telegraph companies, and more.  It appeared as an illustration in a widely-read American magazine in 1902.

   Morgan is shown walking into Europe, so rich and self-confident that kings are thrown off balance by his influence in banking, investments, and finance. 

   While many people admired his talent and drive, he was often criticized for the hard-ball style of business dealing that was typical of that time.  U.S. Steel, for example, made great advances in efficient production, but the company had a near-monopoly in the steel industry.  His name always came up when critics demanded new laws to scale back the power and political influence of big business leaders.

   Morgan was widely admired for his gifts to some of New York City's most famous museums.  On his death in 1913, Morgan gave his mansion and valuable private library collection to the Morgan Library and Museum, which remains a New York City landmark.

All photos and the color print are from the Library of Congress. 
Some have been edited or resized for this page.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright 2009, 2017 by David Burns.  All rights reserved.  As a guide to the Virginia Standards of Learning, some pages necessarily include phrases or sentences from that document, which is available online from the Virginia Department of Education.  The author's copyright extends to the original text and graphics, unique design and layout, and related material.