J. P. Morgan

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J. P. Morgan
John Pierpont Morgan
BirthplaceHartford, Connecticut, U.S.
Financier, banker, art collector

Morgan, J. P. (John Pierpont)

(1837–1913) financier, art collector, philanthropist; born in Hartford, Conn. He worked in various banking houses, including his father's (Junius Spencer Morgan) in London, until 1871 when he established Drexel, Morgan & Co. with Anthony J. Drexel. The firm—known as J. P. Morgan & Co. after 1895 – became one of the most powerful banking houses in the world. In 1873 the U.S. treasury allowed his firm to secure part of a government loan, thereby breaking a monopoly held by the unscrupulous Jay Cooke, and although Morgan definitely worked to advance his own fortune, he established a reputation as a positive force for the nation's financial and industrial base. He helped stabilize the railroads, for instance, and in 1895 he stanched the gold drain from the U.S. treasury reserves. In 1901 he bought out Andrew Carnegie's and others' companies to form the United States Steel Corporation. By this time he was the best known, richest, and most influential financier America had ever seen, and inevitably he was attacked by many, but he emerged from a 1912 Congressional investigation with his reputation largely intact. He gave away large sums to a variety of institutions. A knowledgeable collector of art, he was a major benefactor of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His large and superb collection of books, manuscripts, and drawings were left to the Morgan Library in New York City.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.