Hardly Rags to Riches!

Some people loved JP Morgan, some hated them but there were very few that didn't respect the man who became one of the top financiers in the world around the turn of the 20th century, with interests in American railways, steel and heavy industry.

He had a good start of course; Morgan was himself the son of a highly successful financier, called Junius Spencer Morgan who made sure that his son acquired sound financial education in Boston, and at the University of Gottingen in lower Saxony, Germany. After starting a career in accountancy he became a partner in a number of companies, his father's money no doubt out helping to oil the wheels, but by sheer hard work and natural ability he was able to build up a firm in which he had a major shareholding, JP Morgan and Company, into one of the foremost financial organisations in not only America but the whole world.

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His business and social links allow him access to financiers in Great Britain and so he was ideally placed to arrange financing for the huge growth of industrial corporations in the USA. Around 1885 two major companies, the Pennsylvania and New York Central railroads were locked in competition and the financial war of attrition between them was leading both companies to financial disaster. He joined the board of each company and reorganise them so that they ceased to compete but to co-operate, a practice which was considered perfectly acceptable in those days but which today would be downright illegal under monopolies legislation! Its success here led to him repeating the process throughout the United States, establishing monopolistic systems wherever possible, and in the process he became the most powerful railway man in the United States.