The Man Who Made Wall Street: Anthony J. Drexel and the Rise of Modern Finance

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University of Pennsylvania Press, May 22, 2006 - Biography & Autobiography - 296 pages
2 Reviews

He tamed the market's bulls and bears. "He was the best friend I have ever had in every way."—J. P. Morgan

It was the height of the Gilded Age and J. Pierpont Morgan controlled the fate of railroads, corporations, and governments. The wealthy and influential were said to tremble before his blinding intellect and intimidating gaze, yet he deferred to one man: Anthony J. Drexel. Drexel—whose name is familiar today only through the university he founded and his recently canonized niece and protegee, Katharine—was the most influential financier of the nineteenth century.

The second son of an Austrian emigre, Anthony Drexel (1826-1893) soon established himself as the preeminent financial mind in the Philadelphia currency brokerage his father began in 1838. Shunning publicity, self-promotion, and high-profile public accolades (he declined President Ulysses S. Grant's invitation to become Secretary of the Treasury), Drexel initiated a partnership with J. P. Morgan and his father, Junius, that became the most powerful financial combination of its age.

At a time when the United States did not have a central bank, the government as well as large-scale commercial ventures relied on financiers to raise the enormous sums of money necessary to build railroads, construct factories, and fight major wars. With branches and partnerships in London, Paris, Chicago, and New York, all benefiting from their leader's reputation for impeccable integrity, Drexel's firms were able to steer American business through the most extraordinary long-term economic growth of any nation in world history, as well as through four devastating depressions, an enlightening lesson in the cyclical nature of the U.S. economy.

Drexel and his firm quietly pioneered many of the financial and business strategies that we now take for granted, such as trading national currencies, guaranteeing credit for travelers abroad, rewarding workers based on individual initiative, and offering "sweat equity" to deserving employees who could not afford to buy stock. By cultivating Morgan's self-confidence and allowing his younger business partner to become the public face for the firm, Drexel was able to avoid attention and, instead, nurture his extended family.

Today, Anthony J. Drexel's influence and accomplishments are mostly forgotten or credited to others, but after decades of detective work and careful research, Dan Rottenberg has succeeded in writing the first biography of this exceptionally influential and elusive man. Since Drexel gave no interviews, kept no diaries, held no public offices, and destroyed most of his personal papers, Rottenberg had painstakingly to track down every reference and anecdote he could find and, in the process, discovered 150 previously unknown letters and cables in Drexel's hand. Drexel believed that there is no limit to what one can accomplish if one doesn't mind who gets the credit, but as The Man Who Made Wall Street shows, the balance has finally been paid in full.

  

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The man who made Wall Street: Anthony J. Drexel and the rise of modern finance

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Nineteenth-century financial tycoon and J.P. Morgan partner Anthony Drexel has long deserved a biography, and he is well served by historian and Family Business magazine editor Rottenberg (The ... Read full review

Review: The Man Who Made Wall Street: Anthony J. Drexel And The Rise Of Modern Finance

User Review  - Ray Mccue - Goodreads

I'm impressed by the pieces of Drexel's life that Dan Rottenberg was able to assemble, given how the man avoided personal prominence like the plague. The three star rating is due to how dry the text ... Read full review

Contents

The Artist as Fugitive
9
The Making of a Currency broker
20
As Good a Bargain as Possible
33
A Wild and Reckless People
45
The Yankees Did Not Whip Us in the Field
59
The Rise of George Childs
73
The Delusions of Jay Cooke
79
A FirstClass Businessman
91
Two Social Revolutionaries
149
The Burden of Conscience
162
The Death and Rebirth of the House of Drexel
172
Simplified Genealogy
185
Principal Characters
186
List of Abbreviations
192
Notes
193
Bibliography
233

Panic and Progress
107
The Perils of Partnership
120
Railroad Boom
127
Reluctant Titan
139
Acknowledgments
243
Index
247
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

Dan Rottenberg is the editor of www.broadstreetreview.com, an internet arts and culture forum. He is the author of nine books and has written for Town and Country, New York Times Magazine, Forbes, Civilization, TV Guide, Rolling Stone, and many other publications.

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