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15 things you didn't know about J.P. Morgan

John Pierpont (J.P.) Morgan was a successful financier who lived at the turn of the twentieth century, and is rated second most influential businessman of all time by Forbes.

1. In 1903, after president Theodore Roosevelt persuaded Colombia to hand over control of its province of Panama, J.P. Morgan & Company were appointed 'fiscal agent' for the newly independent Republic of Panama, managing $10 million of donated government aid.

2. J.P. Morgan was famed for taking over failing businesses, and reorganising them into a more profitable enterprise. He did this so often, the process became known as "Morganization".

3. The private member's Metropolitan Club was founded by Morgan after his friend John King was rejected by the prestigious Union Club in 1891, donating land on 5th avenue worth $125,000.

4. He hated being photographed, as a result of a chronic skin condition which disfigured his nose, though he was patron of the photographer Edward S. Curtis, giving him $75,000 in 1906.

5. The quote "If you have to ask how much it costs, you can't afford it" is attributed to J.P. Morgan.

6. By 1900, J.P. Morgan controlled half the country’s railroads, with interests in 24 separate companies running over 100,000 miles of track.

7. Morgan's power was such that he bailed out the US economy in two separate financial crises – providing 3.5 million ounces of gold when the US Treasury ran out after the Panic of 1903, and saving the New York banking industry during the Panic of 1907.

8. The worry over the extent to which the US government had had to rely on Morgan to resolve the 1907 crisis led to bankers and politicians creating the Federal Reserve System.

9. Morgan's house at 219 Madison Avenue was the first electrically lit private residence in New York.

10. In the early 1900s, Morgan bought up the US steel industry, creating US Steel the world's first $1billion company. The largest part of this corporation was Carnegie Steel, whose $480 million takeover was done between Morgan and Andrew Carnegie personally without lawyers or even a written contract.

11. In 1902, he applied for parliamentary authority to build an underground railway in London, but was outmaneuvered by the Charles Tyson Yerkes, who owned the existing Tube lines.

12. Morgan was also a great gem and mineral collector with over 1000 pieces in his collection. In 1911, the pink variety of beryl was named "morganite" in his honour.

13. As an owner of White Star Line, Morgan was scheduled to travel on the Titanic, but decided to remain on holiday in France instead.

14. When he died in 1913, the NYSE shut for 2 hours - a mark of respect normally only afforded to a US President.

15. "Rich Uncle Pennybags", the moustachioed signature character of the board game Monopoly, is modelled after Morgan


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