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JP Morgan biography
The most influential banker in history

John Pierpont (JP) Morgan was born on April 17, 1837 in Hartford, Connecticut to parents Juniet Spencer Morgan and Juliet (Pierpont) Morgan. His father was a partner of the firm George Peabody & Co. so by no means was JP Morgan born into a poor family. After he completed school at the English school in Boston, he went to the University of Gottingen in Germany.

When he returned to the US in 1857 he got a job working for the private banking house Duncan, Sherman and Company. In 1860 he was appointed as the American agent and attorney for George Peabody & Company in which his father was a partner. This later became J.S. Morgan & Co and when his father died in 1890 he left it to JP Morgan giving him important European connections and enabling him to run a large foreign reserve business.

By the time of his father's death, JP Morgan had already established himself as a financier through Dabney, Morgan & Co. and later Drexel, Morgan & Co. It was after the Civil War that he started buying distressed businesses and especially railroad companies. Some of these railroads include the West Shore, Philadelphia and Reading, Richmond Terminal, the Erie and the New England railroads. His process of buying and consolidation of railroads came to be known as Morganization.

On several occasions, JP Morgan also helped the government in its finances. In 1877, together with August Belmont and the Rothschilds, they floated $260 million in US government bonds. After the government ran into some gold problems, he bought $200 million worth of government bonds with gold thereby preserving the credit of the United States. Some of his detractors had, however, heavily criticised him for the harsh terms of the loan. This had also resulted in a Congressional hearing in 1912, but he walked away largely unscathed.

Perhaps the biggest deal he was ever involved in was the forming of the US Steel Corporation, the first billion-dollar corporation. He had bought some mills from Andrew Carnegie and together with some other steel assets formed US Steel - worth approximately $1.2 billion. He was also involved with several other companies and sat on quite a few boards. A few of the better known ones include Western Union Telegraph Company and General Electric.

At the time of his death on March 31, 1913 he had an estate worth $80 million (today around $1.2 billion). Compared to his peers of the time, especially Rockefeller, it was not such a large estate. In fact, it was Rockefeller's comment at the time, "And to think he wasn't even a rich man." Yet, JP Morgan's power did not lie in the millions he had, it lay in the billions he controlled.







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