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.