This is primarily a view of the economic outlook of early America's leading capitalist, John Jacob Astor. Although he was born of humble origins, the son of a butcher in Walldorf, Germany, his thinking and practices were those of a Federalist aristocrat. As such he was against government interference in private enterprise and also the war of 1812, which constituted a threat to his property and profits. A favorite Astor maxim was: ""No one ever made any money giving it away to the poor"". Money was the sole end for which he worked; his activity in religious and masonic affairs stemmed from business reasons. His only affection was reserved for his family. His main activity in the postwar America of the 1780's was fur trading with the Indians, but his interests embraced a wide range of commercial enterprises. He acquired enormous real estate holdings in New York; he was a great shipping magnate; an opium peddler; a political power behind the scenes whose confrerer included Aaron Burr and DeWitt Clinton. He was also the leading fur trader in the world and the richest man in America after Stephen irard. The book, while deploring his attitudes, glorifies Astor as the author of an economic scheme more vital, dynamic and momentous then any originated and carried forward by one man in the history of America. Pertinacious, pertinent historical coverage of a figure whose influence persists.