John Pierpont Morgan is one of the greatest and most influential financial figures in the history of United States. He was born in April 17, 1837 in Hartford where he spent fourteen years of his childhood (Cengage Gale 552). Pierpont was brought up in a financially successful family set up. His father Junius, a very successful entrepreneur, strongly believed in providing his son with the highest morals and practical education (Wilkinson 1).
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He constantly encouraged his son to comport with boys only since he would derive positive influence from such interactions. However, the maternal role of Pierpont’s mother Juliet on his life has not been emphasized in his biography. His family background significantly promoted Pierpont’s business skills.
In his childhood, Pierpont attended local schools in Hartford before qualifying into Boston English High school in 1851 which was a preparatory school for commerce (Alef 2). However, he spent a period of less than a year in the school and had to be transferred to the Azores due to health complications. Pierpont then moved to London where his father’s bank headquarters were located (Wilkinson 1).
This provided him with an opportunity to earn practical experience on banking and finance. Pierpont further spent a year in private school in Switzerland and two years at a University in Germany where he matured both physically and academically. The knowledge he acquired through learning and experience in his father’s firm provided a rich foundation for his business career.
In 1861, Pierpont fell in love with Amelia Sturges who was at the time suffering from tuberculosis. Pierpont and Amelia got married against his father’s advice and after four months Amelia died (Cengage Gale 553). The death of his wife at his tender age of 24 greatly impacted on his decision making prompting his father to intervene. In 1865, Pierpont married Frances Tracey with whom they had four children, one son, J.P. Morgan Jr. and three daughters, Louisa Juliet and Anne (Alef 2).
However as the days went by, Pierpont and his wife become more distant and Pierpont enjoyed spending more time with a certain widow known as Edith Randolph. Pierpont brought the widow along with her two children to his family holidays and vacations claiming that she provided him with company. However, Tracey’s diary does not reveal any remorseful or anger feelings regarding the relationship between her husband and Edith.
After returning to New York from his dad’s firm in England (which was involved in financing the import of British made iron rails for the American railroad system) (Cengage Gale 553) Pierpont became a junior accountant at (Duncan Sherman & Company) and later became a cashier for Duncan.
At Duncan Sherman and Co, he spent the first few months as a copyist and later advanced to positions of higher responsibility due to his father’s influence in the business world. After his promotion, he became involved in research missions and business trips which helped him to acquire confidence and skills to engineer diverse business deals.
On a business trip to New Orleans, Pierpont boarded a ship and discovered that the captain had a shipment of consigned coffee but the consignee could not be found (Alef 3). Pierpont bought the consignment and sold it for a hefty profit which he forwarded to Duncan. His boss was not thrilled by Pierpont’s tendency to engage in unauthorized actions. Consequently, although this act was a demonstration of his business acumen and risk aversion skills, it led to his discontinuation at Duncan Sherman & Co.
In 1861, Pierpont founded his own firm J.P. Morgan and Co. which acted as an American subsidiary of his father’s firm in London (Cengage Gale 554). His first office was situated at 53 Exchange Place near Wall Street from where he became famous for his successful business deals.
Due to his tendency to engage in controversial business deals, Pierpont’s father forced him to hire Charles Dabney as a senior partner since he was older, skilled and more cautious in business dealings. Consequently, his firm became Dabney & Morgan from 1864-1871 and then Drexel in 1871 after a merger with a Philadelphia family-run bank (Cengage Gale 554).
Morgan continued to make a fortune in the course of financing the growing (rail road) industry as it spread across continents. By 1869, he had acquired control of Albany and Susquehanna Railroad and in 1879; he took part in a secret consortium that sold $25 million worth of William holdings in the (New York) Rail Road (Cengage Gale 554).
This deal not only earned him a great deal of return on investment but also made him one of the famous dealers in United States which granted him an opportunity as a member of the New York Central Railroad’s board of directors.
J.P Morgan became involved in the centralized government activities in the early 1870s through (treasury) bonds and loans from the government. During the economic crisis of 1893, Pierpont was appointed by Grover, the then president, to act as the central banker (Cengage Gale 555).
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During this time, Morgan led an effort that created a consortium with European lenders and profited hugely from the deal. The move saved United States commercial bank system from collapsing and put Pierpont on the spot light due to his failure to reveal the actual amount of profit he acquired from the deal.
In the late 1870s Pierpont became involved in funding of the Edison (an Electric firm) (Cengage Gale 555). The merger company became the fist to operate by electric light in the world. He further arranged a strategic merger with one of his rival companies, General Electric (Cengage Gale 555).
In 1895, J P Morgan became the chief executive officer of J P Morgan and Company and became one of the most influential forces in American finance. He was often consulted in merger decisions and was popularly known for arranging the merger that created United States Steel, the first billion dollar manufacturing corporation in the world (Cengage Gale 556). He also continued to assist the government in times of financial crisis such as in the financial crisis of 1907 where he assisted in the evaluation of insolvent institutions.
J P Morgan died in 1913 and his son J P Morgan JR took over his estates as well as his company (Cengage Gale 555). His life greatly impacted on social and economic aspects of American life. Pierpont played a significant role in the development of infrastructure in the country through establishment of new rail roads and public utilities. He also financed an entire army pay role during the civil war. Further, through the creation of U S Steel, the country has been able to thrive economically through rapid industrialization.
Alef, Daniel. J.P. Morgan: America’s greatest banker. New York: Titans of fortune Publishing. Not dated. Print.
Cengage, Gale. Business Leader Profiles for Students. NY: Cengage learning, 1998. Web.
Wilkinson, William. John Pierpont Morgan. New York: Gallopade International Publishing, Not dated. Print.