Essay on Morgan

This essay has a total of 1254 words and 6 pages.


John Pierpont Morgan:
The turn of the century in American, when E.L. Doctorow's novel Ragtime is set, was a time
marked by rapid technological developments and industrialization. These years also brought
a heavy flood of immigrants as well as an increasingly urban American landscape.
Technological advancements enabled increased efficiency and mass production. However,
Doctorow clearly brings into question the consequences of this new technology for the
average American worker. J.P. Morgan's discussion with Henry Ford about the assembly
line's innovations brings this debate to the front. Doctorow writes, "From these
principles Ford established the final proposition of the theory of industrial manufacture
- not only that the parts of the finished product be interchangeable, but that the men who
build the products be themselves interchangeable parts" (113). Here Doctorow clearly
addresses the potential for technology to undermine the value of the individual and his

Banker and industrialist John Pierpont Morgan was one of the world's foremost financial
figures in the decades before World War I. He organized railroads and formed the United
States Steel Corporation. His wealth and financial management skills were so considerable
that he was able to steer the United States Treasury from the brink of disaster.

Morgan was born in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1837, and educated at the University of
Gottingen in Germany. In 1871, with members of the Drexel family of Philadelphia, he
organized the New York banking firm of Drexel, Morgan & Company. It began lending vast
sums to railroad builders and industrial corporations in the 1880s and was later
reorganized as J.P. Morgan and Company.

As noted by Erin Arvedlund, he was a "natural born financier [and] loved spreading his
bank account among dozens of different foreign currencies." John Pierpont Morgan and his
father established a firm that was later to be known as J.P. Morgan & Co. Throughout
Ragtime, E.L. Doctorow constantly refers to the economic status of the families and
immigrants. J.P. Morgan's companies and firms were large employers of these immigrants.
His achievements in finance and business greatly affected the families in this novel.
Money was something that could break a family apart if it was nonexistent.

In 1857, John Pierpont Morgan's father, Junius Morgan, decided to broaden his son's
experience by sending him to New York. The firm of Duncan, Sherman & Co. was the American
representation of the George Peabody Company. Junius Morgan wrote to the company asking
for a position for his son and advertising the fact that his son had many admirable
qualities for a worker. Although, J.P. Morgan was denied a promotion when his father
requested one, he did receive a promotion in the firm later in his career. In 1860, Morgan
left Duncan, Sherman and founded J. P. Morgan and Company to act as an agent for his
father's business. When Junius Morgan died in 1890, J.P. became head of the London house.
Pierpont now was able to control all the dealing between the New York based firm and their
oversees partner.

Pierpont was now at the head of houses in New York, Philadelphia, London, and Paris. He
was the commanding figure in international finance. In 1869, a war over railroads began,
including Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, both famous financiers. Gould already had dominant
control over the Erie railroad and began to buy up stock in the Albany & Susquehanna
Railroad. Morgan developed into the nation's railroad reorganizer. In 1886, the
Philadelphia and Reading Railroad was in great difficulty with a deficit of six million
dollars a year. Morgan was brought in to slash the value of the watered stock, reduce
interest rates on the bonds, and assess the shareholders for more money. 1888, J.P. Morgan
was again called on to reorganize railroads in the east. He reorganized the Chesapeake &
Ohio and the Baltimore & Ohio. He often encountered some resistance to his interference
but managed, in the end, to accomplish his set goals and reshape the failing economic
Railroad system.

Morgan's reputation most likely grows from his role in the emergence of many modern
companies. Morgan, through his innate business sense, helped launch some of America's
largest corporations. He was able to invest and help foundling companies in need of his
monetary support and guidance. Morgan went on to help create the Federal Steel Company,
the National Tube Company, and the American Bridge Company.

The first time that Morgan was truly introduced to the general public was his aid to the
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