The Golden Touch

Banker J. P. Morgan rescued the dollar and bailed out the nation

On February 5, 1895, the Jupiter of American banking, J. P. Morgan, took the train from New York to Washington to see the president. He had no appointment but came to discuss matters of grave national interest. The crash of 1893 had thrown the country into deep depression, exposed a schizophrenic monetary policy, and now the nation’s gold standard stood on the brink of collapse. Read more »

Business

Growing up in a family with many members who earned their livings on Wall Street and with many ancestors and relatives who had done the same, I—as might be expected—very early heard stories of business that I found as fascinating as the tales of military action I was soaking up at the same time. The novelist Thomas Hardy explained that “war makes rattling good history,” but it was James Gordon Bennett, the founder of the New York Herald, who explained why business makes the same.Read more »

The Fire Last Time

When terrorists first struck New York’s financial district

If you go downtown in Manhattan to the offices of the old J. P. Morgan firm at the corner of Wall and Broad, you’ll see the pocked-marble scars of the first blow that terrorists struck at America’s financial heart, the Wall Street bombing of 1920. The country recovered amazingly well from that outrage, although no one was ever brought to justice for the crime, which was, until the Oklahoma City devastation, the most deadly terrorist attack in American history. On the very next day following the explosion, the Stock Exchange and curb trading resumed, however shakily.Read more »

The American Heritage

A ranking of the forty wealthiest Americans of all time (Surprise: Only three of them are alive today)

JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER

1839-1937 Read more »

The Road To The Future

Fifty years ago the builders of the Pennsylvania Turnpike completed America’s first superhighway—and helped determine the shape of travel to come

Most American motorists take for granted the concrete and asphalt web of interstate highways that has penetrated so deeply into the nation’s economy and thinking. The 43,000-mile system of fouror-more-lane divided, limited-access roads reaches from the canyons of California to the beaches of Florida and the urban bustle of the Northeast Corridor. But of course there was a time when the superhighway idea was brand-new.Read more »

The Magnitude of J. P. Morgan

It cannot be measured in dollars alone. It involved a kind of personal power no man of affairs will ever have again.

On the night of Thursday, October 24, 1907, nearly every important banker in New York was meeting in J. P. Morgan’s exquisite private library, located next to his house at the northeast corner of Madison Avenue and Thirty-sixth Street. In the magnificent East Room, with its three tiers of inlaid wood and glass cabinets containing the printed masterpieces of the world, the bankers sought a way to end the financial panic that held Wall Street, and thus the country, in its grip. Read more »

The Street

A knowledgeable and passionate guide takes us for a walk down Wall Street, and we find the buildings there eloquent of the whole history of American finance

One of the pleasant burdens of friendship, and of living in a renowned and intimidating great city like New York, is that friends planning to visit will ask me to show them the sights of some quarter of town, most usually in the borough of Manhattan, county of New York. Read more »

The Impeccable Gardener

Beatrix Farrand’s exactingly beautiful designs changed the American landscape

When Beatrix Farrand arrived to work on a garden, clients knew they were in the presence of someone extraordinary. Friends called her Queen Elizabeth, and she sat regally swathed in lap robes, dressed primly in English tweeds, as her chauffeur guided the Fierce-Arrow touring car up the drive. In the twenties and thirties a garden by Farrand was believed to open social doors for its owner, and the people who hired her—people with such names as J. P. Morgan, Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, Mr. Edward Whitney, Mrs.Read more »

Exit Lines

About to die at the untimely age of forty-four in 1883, Dr. George Miller Beard, a Connecticut physician and pioneer in neurology, remarked: “I should like to record the thoughts of a dying man for the benefit of science, but it is impossible.” And with those words, Dr. Beard passed beyond further speech. Regardless of their inner thoughts, we do at least know what many individuals uttered before giving up the ghost.Read more »

A Lion In The Street

How J. P. Morgan, like a “one-man Federal Reserve,” calmed the bankers and helped ease the Panic of 1907

On August 8, 1911, a committee of the House of Representatives was interrogating George W. Perkins, a former partner of the House of Morgan, about the control of the Morgan firm over the steel industry. Tempers matched the heat of the Washington weather as the questioning ranged over every aspect of the firm’s affairs. Time and again the witness and Chairman Augustus O. Stanley clashed—interrupting each other repeatedly, their voices rising.