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Addicks, John Edward O’Sullivan (21 November 1841–07 August 1919), promoter and aspiring politician, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of John Edward Addicks, a politician and civil servant, and Margaretta McLeod. Addicks’s father achieved local political prominence and arranged for his son to take a job at age fifteen as a runner for a local dry goods business. Four years later Addicks took a job with a flour company and, upon reaching his twenty-first birthday, became a full partner in the business. Like many Quaker City merchants, Addicks speculated in local real estate in the booming port town, avoided service in the Civil War, and achieved a modicum of prosperity in the postwar period. He became overextended, as he would be most of his career, however, and went broke in the 1873 depression....

Article

Baruch, Bernard Mannes (19 August 1870–20 June 1965), financier and statesman, was born in Camden, South Carolina, the son of Dr. Simon Baruch and Belle Wolfe. Place played a large role in his life. In 1881 the family moved to New York City, where his father became a prominent physician and leader in public health. Baruch graduated from the City College of New York and made his career in Wall Street, but he shrewdly maintained an identification with South Carolina through ownership of a plantation, “Hobcaw,” where he entertained people with political connections that enhanced his influence in the national Democratic party. By transcending local politics, Baruch became one of the most powerful Democrats in the first half of the twentieth century....

Article

Belmont, August (08 December 1813–24 November 1890), financier, politician, and sportsman, was born in Alzey, a German Rhineland village, the son of Simon Belmont, a moneylender and landowner, and Frederika Elsass. He attended a Jewish school, the Philanthropin, in Frankfurt and in 1828 began work as an office boy for the local branch of the Rothschild banking family, to which he was distantly related through marriage. He was soon promoted to confidential clerk and in 1837 was sent to Cuba to investigate that Spanish colony’s stability. A stopover in New York changed the course of his life. The panic of 1837 had just struck, and the Rothschilds’ New York agent had declared bankruptcy. Belmont decided to stay and established August Belmont and Company, a private banking firm that would maintain a close, long-term working relationship with the Rothschilds. Belmont’s rise on Wall Street was rapid. He profited from foreign exchange transactions; commercial and private loans; corporate, real estate, and railroad investments; and as a U.S. government fiscal agent during the Mexican War. In 1849 he married Caroline Slidell Perry, with whom he had six children....

Article

Bingham, William (08 April 1752–07 February 1804), businessman and public official, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of William Bingham, a saddler and merchant, and Mary “Molly” Stamper. Bingham graduated cum laude from the College of Philadelphia in 1768. Sometime after the death of his father in 1769, he served an apprenticeship with Philadelphia merchant ...

Article

Corbett, Henry Winslow (18 February 1827–31 March 1903), banker, capitalist, and politician, was born in Westboro, Massachusetts, the son of Elijah Corbett, a mechanic and businessman, and Melinda Forbush. Reared in a large family in Washington County, New York, Corbett attended Cambridge Academy and later clerked. In 1843 he moved to New York City and took employment with Williams, Bradford & Company. Confident of his business acumen, the company sent him by sea to Oregon to sell merchandise, and in February 1851 Corbett arrived in Portland, a village hacked out of the timber. While awaiting the arrival of his goods, the ambitious young merchant rode up the Willamette Valley to discover what pioneer farmers wanted to buy, and he found a strong demand for shoes, nails, sugar, coffee, tobacco, cloth, and brooms. Thus Corbett began a lifetime practice of seeking market opportunities. He opened a Portland store near the Willamette River, slept in the store’s loft, made a remarkable $20,000 profit in about fourteen months, and then rejoined his employers in New York....

Article

English, James Edward (13 March 1812–02 March 1890), businessman and politician, was born in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of James English, a customs collector and shipowner, and Nancy Griswold. When he was eleven, English persuaded his parents to allow him to live with and work for a local farmer. After three years his father enrolled him in a private school. At sixteen he became an apprentice to a New Haven carpenter and joiner and grew adept at creating architectural designs and drawing up contracts. Subsequently, he worked as an independent contractor and master builder, planning and constructing several of New Haven’s more imposing houses. English had accumulated enough money by 1835 to form a lumber company in New Haven with a partner, Harmanus M. Welch. However, in the wake of the panic of 1837, he decided that it would be prudent to diversify his business. He purchased and constructed ships to serve the Philadelphia–New England trade and over the next two decades built a considerable fortune....

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Evans, John (09 March 1814–03 July 1897), physician, businessman, and politician, was born near Waynesville, Ohio, the son of David Evans and Rachel Burnet, farmers. His Quaker father left their modest farm and became a successful real estate investor. John completed his education at the Medical Department of the Cincinnati College in 1838. That year he married Hannah Canby. They moved to Attica, Indiana, where, after hearing the stirring sermons of Bishop ...

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Leary, John (01 November 1837–08 February 1905), business leader and politician, was born in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada. Virtually nothing is known about his parents or his early life. Apparently relying largely on his own initiative, he prospered in lumber manufacturing and shipping as a young man, and he operated mercantile establishments in his native province. Financial setbacks prompted him to move to Houlton, Maine, where he engaged in the lumber business. In 1858 he married Mary Blanchard. They had no children. In 1869 he followed his interest in lumbering to Seattle, Washington Territory....

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Andrew W. Mellon Photograph by Arnold Genthe, 1924. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-G401-T-4559-003-001-x).

Article

Mellon, Andrew William (24 March 1855–26 August 1937), financier, statesman, and art collector, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Thomas Mellon, a lawyer and later a judge, entrepreneur, and banker, and Sarah Jane Negley. Mellon attended public schools in Pittsburgh and Western University of Pennsylvania (now the University of Pittsburgh). While still a student he observed his father’s financial dealings with industrialists ...