As control of the American economy became increasingly centralized in trusts located on Wall Street after the Civil War, and the wealth of men like J.P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller grew exponentially, there developed an increasing backlash against such concentrations of wealth. In the 1880s, through an investigation by a committee of the New York State Legislature, Americans became aware that Standard Oil secretly controlled a number of supposedly competing oil companies. By 1910 almost 90% of the world’s oil supply was controlled from the company’s headquarters at 26 Broadway in Manhattan. [Read more…] about Trust Busting: William Jennings Bryan & Theodore Roosevelt
The period after the Civil War was one of significant economic and technological expansion in the nation and one in which corporations headquartered in Lower Manhattan and Wall Street would obtain a significant hegemony over the American economy.
This was a time in which individual entrepreneurs were running private businesses located on Wall Street. Men such as Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jay Gould, John D. Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan were major figures in the country and attained economic power and wealth on a scale previously unknown in United States history.
Much of their wealth was derived exploiting natural resources and technological innovations (notably steam engines, railroads, and oil). It was also largely dependent on the economy’s western expansion and African-American and immigrant labor. These men, who some call “Titans of Industry” and others “Robber Barons,” generally consolidated independent businesses into national enterprises, large monopolies, and multinational corporations. Many of these were headquartered in Lower Manhattan. [Read more…] about Wall Street History: Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Gould, and Morgan
Since reading The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance, the towering biography of J.P. Morgan by John Chernow, I’ve been intrigued by the legacy of the great financier and others of his ilk. Several years ago, while in NYC for a few days, I visited the Morgan Library. While not as impressive as other shrines to rich and powerful men (e.g., George Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate), it was certainly an enjoyable and educational field trip. So, when I saw that Scott J. Winslow was presenting a catalog devoted to the financial giant, I thought it was worth a mention here. According to the Winslow site, the catalog traces the the course of Morgan’s prolific career, which saw presidencies from Lincoln to Theodore Roosevelt.
Ironically, it was almost exactly 100 years ago when old J.P. bailed out the country by loaning millions to the banks during the financial panic of 1907. Without J.P.’s cash infusion, the U.S. might have suffered a catastrophy that might have altered the course of the 20th century. Who would we turn to today?
Ephemera collectors [and New York historians!] will undoubtedly appreciate this extensive catalog featuring Morgan and his many influential associates and partners, including John D. Rockefeller, Jay Cooke, Anthony Drexel, and Jay Gould.
Other posts on the ephemera blog that have recently caught our attention include:
Luggage Label Collector Tom Schifanella Interview