New book mentions JP Morgan & Titanic

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Hi All,

In a new biography "Ladies and Not-so-Gentle Women" by Alfred Allan Lewis (Viking,$38.95), which is a collective study of Elsie de Wolfe, Elisabeth Marbury, Anne Vanderbilt and Anne Morgan, there are some interesting tid-bits on the Titanic and J.P. Morgan, Anne's father.

According the the author, J.P. cancelled his passage on the Titanic mainly because:

"...When word got out that the financier would be on the maiden voyage of his great new liner, White Star was beseiged by requests from an array of con men and Wall Street speculators, all wanting to book staterooms on the Titanic in the hope of cornering him at sea, where he had no escape, to badger him into funding their sure-to-make-millions schemes. He cancelled his own booking, announcing he had no plans to return to the States until summer. At the same time he gave orders that his art collection, which was being shipped to New York, not be placed aboard..."

The other reason has often been mentioned - that he was doting on a young French mistress whom he'd installed in a villa he'd taken at Aix-les-Bains.

Two more things are of interest to Titanic buffs.

One is that Anne Morgan, rather than showing the allegiance one would expect from the daughter of White Star's owner, set sail for Europe just after the disaster aboard the new France, instead of waiting to take the Olympic a day or so later. As the author says:

"...It would have been a big vote of confidence to have the Morgan family aboard a White Star vessel so soon after the disaster and undoubtedly would have been picked up by the press..."

The other is a mention of the great historian Henry Adams' grief over the loss of two close friends in the sinking - Francis Millet and Archie Butt. Henry Adams, along with art critic Bernard Berenson, were in turn close friends with Anne Morgan. To a friend, Adams wrote:

"...The foundering of the Titanic strikes at confidence in our mechanical success. By my blessed Virgin, it is awful! This Titanic blow shatters one's nerves. We can't grapple it. No ship seems safe and if I am wrecked, I might as well go under."

This is a very good book for anyone interested in the Edwardian era and in particular its fascinating women.


Erik Wood


Perhaps you could answer this to me. I believe that J.P Morgan owned IMM which basically owned White Star. Well what happened to IMM now?


I don't know. I really know nothing about JP Morgan except what I've read in this book and what pops up in Titanic books. I assume IMM survived him (he died in 1913) but I just don't know for sure. I bet there's somebody on the board more knowledgeable on Morgan than I who might can help. There is a book, published fairly recently, called The House of Morgan that is considered to be THE definitive biography of JP and it should be in most libraries.

Wish I knew more to tell you.

Erik, the IMM was dealt a taggering blow by the loss of the Titanic from which it never really recovered. P.A.S. Franklin eventually became it's president, and World War One propped it up for awhile. After that, it found itself in a sea of red ink and it was forced to divest itself of it's foreign holdings after the war. In 1927, the Coolidge Administration allowed it to sell it's British interests. With it's major holdings gone, it eventually dissolved.

Source: Wyn Craig Wade's Titanic, End Of A Dream.

Michael H. Standart

Susan Markowitz

Well, Randy, you did mention "House"; want to have dinner at J.P.'s own?

Source: "The New York Times Guide to Restaurants In New York City 2000".
(reason for source: looking for places to hold our Titanic_2000 get-together this past September!)

"14 Wall Street" 1-star, French/New American
14 Wall St., 31st fl. (bet. Broadway & Broad St.)
. . . .
This is a place for power meals with a view of the financial district. Once J.P. Morgan's residence, the dining rooms have a slightly old-fashioned air, looking more like a private dining area for a big corporation than an establishment that is open to the public..."

Merrily -- Susan :)

On a more serious note, J.P.'s father donated his mansion and an adjoining building as the Morgan Library, on NY's East Side -- a must-visit for booklovers. (Unless, of course, you're bored by Gutenberg Bibles, one or more of the 6(?) existing first editions of Thomas Malory's "Morte d'Arthur", custom-tooled leather bindings, myriad first editions, a secret staircase, and the sight of JP's father, Pierpont Morgan's spectacular study...) :))
Well we know that JP was a LACE conniseur now don't we? Randy mon amour- I am breathless that Anne and Berenson were chums. Bernard was the protege of another of my FAV dames- Isabella Stewart Gardner of Boston. When you come to town we will see her dee-vine house-museum where in her will she forbade one stick of furniture to be moved, There was a ghastly robbery there about 8 years ago- a Rembrant among the stolen items! Isabella was a PIP- even Lucile would have raised a well- bred arched eyebrow. A new book called ART OF THE SCANDAL is out about Isabella- MRS. JACK is an oldie but goodie bio.

Very interesting about the Morgan place. Sounds great. When shall we do lunch?


Re: Isabella Stewart Gardiner - she too was a friend of the "girls" - Bessy, Elsie & the 2 Annes. There's a photocopy in the Alfred Allan Lewis book of a page from the register of the Wallace Collection in London (1898 or so), showing the signatures of Elsie, Bessy, and Isabella. (Lucile was a tag-along at times with these interesting ladies - "sapphic salonniers" they were, you know - which raised a few eyebrows re: her)


Re: Morgan's attention to dress

Another thing in the new book that surprised me was J.P. Morgan's absolute devotion to daughter Anne's mode of dress. He not only ritually accompanied her to her fittings at Worth in Paris but Anne deferred to him completely in the selection of dresses. He was steadfast in his devotion to the house of Worth, although Anne did also wear Lucile clothes and was an investor in her NY branch from the time of its opening in 1910. I wonder if Morgan approved of his daughter's partial defection to a rival of Worth's, especially as it would appear he did not approve of any of Anne's friends. He even refused (for a variety of reasons)to cross the threshold of the Villa Trianon, the chateau at Versailles where she passed the summers with Elsie de Wolfe and Bessy Marbury.

Randy ,mon ange- YES..I know ALL about "the girls"- some of that scandal rubbed off on Wallis Simpson-who stole the Prince from Thelma Furness- and you know THAT story! Elsie was a galpal of Wallis too. What was the title of Elsie's home decorating tome? A peachy bio on the Vanderbilt twins, DOUBLE EXPOSURE is a hoot. I guess all the Bright Young Things stuck together-oh my- the cloche HATS, tailored little Chanel suits, thick stockings and those darling strappy shoes-I watch Diana Rigg (one of my favorites) in the PBS series Mrs. Bradley Mysteries on Mystery just to see the CLOTHES. Francesca Annis (my other favorite) had wonderful threads in the PBS Agatha Christie Tuppence and Tommy mysteries. I caught Brief Encounter and Mousetrap in London last month and LOVED the clothes-a time when dressing took thought and time.

Mark Baber

First. Erik Wood wrote:
>I believe that J.P Morgan owned IMM which basically owned White Star. Well what >happened to IMM now?

Right, although Morgan didn't OWN IMM in the sense of owning all of the shares himself. There WERE shares in IMM that were publicly traded---and cancelled IMM stock certificates have become quite common at ephemera shows and on eBay--- but J.P. Morgan & Co. and the banks which cooperated in Morgan's various combine schemes in the early 1900's owned enough of IMM's stock that J.P. Morgan & Co. controlled IMM. IMM, of course, was the record owner of all of the shares of Oceanic Steam Navigation Co., purchased from the Ismay family in 1902.

I once wrote up, but can't right now put my hands on, a thumbnail history of IMM. The bottom line, though, is that after a series of mergers and acquisitions in the 1920's and 1930's, IMM eventually became the United States Line, the owner of, among others, the SSUS. I'll try to find and post that tonight, if I can; otherwise, it may take me a few days to recreate that history.

Then, Michael Standart wrote:
>the IMM was dealt a taggering blow by the loss of the Titanic from which it never really

As I have posted here before, I don't believe that this is true, at least insofar as White Star is concerned; take a look at a posting I made on 23 October in a thread entitled "Other Ships and Shipwrecks: Which sinking had more impact on modern history?" I haven't studied the financial results of IMM in sufficient detail to provide information as to the combine's overall financial health, but I am quite sure that White Star did quite well for many years after the loss of Titanic. I DO know, however, that IMM was never the success that Morgan had envisioned, for two reasons. First, it did not completely control the industry, the way other industries were controlled by combines in the early 1900's. Vigorous competition from Cunard and Canadian Pacific, two major passenger-carrying competitors, as well as a number of cargo-carrying lines of various nationalities, prevented IMM from obtaining the monopoly necessary for it to be the success that Morgan's other ventures were. Second, IMM was never completely successful in getting its own house in order in terms of having all of its lines work together; this was the reason Bruce Ismay was made chairman in 1904, after Clement Griscom was unsuccessful in bringing a couple of the constituent companies into line.

As early as 1919, IMM attempted to sell off its foreign-flag holdings, but was prevented from doing so by the U.S. government. By 1927, however, IMM had sold (in White Star's case) or dissolved most of the lines acquired in 1902.

Sources: Anderson's White Star; Oldham's the Ismay Line; Bonsor's North Atlantic Seaway; Haws' Merchant Fleets; The New York Times for various date in 1902, 1926, 1927, 1933, 1934 and 1947; de Kerbrech & Williams' Cunard White Star Liners of the 1930s; Green and Moss' A Business of National Importance: The Royal Mail Shipping Group, 1902-1937; Mallett and Bell's The Pirrie-Kylsant Motorships; Moss and Hume's Shipbuilders to the World: 125 Years of Harland and Wolff, Belfast, 1861-1986.

Mark, thanks for the additional information on that one as my own source is decidedly limited in scope. While the Titanic's loss was hardly a deathblow, I don't think it helped much. The ship was underinsured by what...about $2,000,000 dollars? That had to hurt!

Michael H. Standart
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