Dozens of men were called "robber barons", but few were as notorious or rich as John Pierpont Morgan, a financier and banker who bankrolled the consolidation of behemoth corporations across various industries. Morgan was behind the merging of Edison General Electric and Thomson-Houston Electric Company, which subsequently became General Electric, still known simply as GE across the world today. Similarly, he financed Federal Steel Company and consolidated various other steel businesses to help form the United States Steel Corporation. While critics complained about the outsized influence that these gigantic businesses had, Morgan's massive wealth also gave him unprecedented power in the financial sector and the ability to deal with politicians. In fact, Morgan played an important part in the Panic of 1907 and the subsequent decision to create the Federal Reserve as a monetary oversight.
The industrial might wielded by men like Morgan directly led to a public backlash and made President Teddy Roosevelt the "trust buster", and there has since been countless regulations to attempt to avoid the types of monopolies found over 100 years ago. However, many 20th century historians and writers pushed back against the allegations hurled at the "robber barons" and even took issue with the name. Morgan may have used his wealth to collect everything from jewelry to yachts, but he was also celebrated for spending enormous sums of money on charitable works and public service projects. As a result, Morgan's reputation is still mixed, even as his legacy is felt over 100 years after his death.
American Legends: The Life of J.P. Morgan looks at the life and career of one of America's most famous industrialists.
©2012 Charles River Editors (P)2015 Charles River Editors
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