THE GREAT PIERPONT MORGAN by Frederick Lewis Allen


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The man who crystallized the flaming twenties in Only Yesterday has drawn an unforgettable portrait of a man who was a symbol of an earlier- but equally sensational-era, J.P. Morgan. He has succeeded in holding to a middle road, with biography that is neither muck-raking nor adulation. Morgan emerges as a giant in his time, a ""regularizing and disciplining force in American industry"". This is only secondarily a personal picture. It is primarily a portrait of the man who brought American industry out of the buccaneering period into a period of cooperation. The fact that this led to evils of centralized power and unwieldly size, that the interests of stockholders took precedence over the interests of the public, have been laid at Morgan's door. Allen shows how vital a factor this step was to the orderly growth of American business, banking, industry, etc. The tracing of the story gives one a sense of being in on a great panel of America's business history, as the railroads become constructive factors, as the United States Steel was born, as American banking became a part of a great international network. Morgan, as individual, as representative of these interests, saved the credit of the United States Treasury under Cleveland; of the City of New York in the panic of 1907; of the Stock Exchange and the banking industry generally in that same panic. Interspersed throughout are enough anecdotes to convey something of the compelling presence and power of the man. He was insulated from the people as such, but generous in concealed ways towards individuals, open handed in the directions he chose, kindly within limitations. He had his violent prejudices; he often made misjudgments; he had tremendous loyalties. In his way he belonged to the ""haute bourgeoisie"" -- his home life, whether in New York or up the Hudson, was unostentatiously comfortable -- and in sharp contrast, there were the variants of the successive Corsairs, his European tours, the regal life of his 60's and 70's. A lifelong devotion to the tenets of his faith, his church, his rector, never deviated. His collections in art and rare manuscripts were probably the greatest private collections ever made, not from the standpoint of a student but a lover of beauty. With the accession of Theodore Roosevelt, the pressure was on- and his last years had much of sorrow and discouragement. Some said it was the Pujo Committee investigation which killed him- though the findings never shook his confidence in his way being the right-for him the only-way...A rich and rewarding biography of a man who was a symbol of his times.

Pub Date: March 30th, 1949
Publisher: Harper