News from 1912: Death of Clement Griscom

Mark Baber

Dec 29, 2000
The New York Times, 11 November 1912

Retired Financier Had Been Ill Two Weeks, Suffering from Brain
With J.P. Morgan He Founded International Mercantile Marine
Company---Other Interests
Special to The New York Times

PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 10.---Clement Acton Griscom, one of the founders of
the International Mercantile Marine Company, died this afternoon at his
country seat, Dolobran, Haverford. He was 72 years old.

He had been acutely ill for two weeks, suffering from congestion of the
brain. While on a European tour in 1911 he was stricken with a slight
attack of paralysis, but he quickly recovered. His constitution was so
rugged that the illness of the past fortnight was not considered as the
final one, although physicians told his family that his condition was

Mr. Griscom had a relapse during the morning. He became enfeebled, and
it could be seen that the end was near. The members of the family were
summoned and remained at the bedside until death.
Clement Acton Griscom was born in Philadelphia on March 15, 1841, the
descendant of a family which had been identified with the history of
Philadelphia since 1680. His father, John D. Griscom, was a prominent
physician of that city.

After receiving his education in the public schools and the Friends
Academy, Mr. Griscom entered the old shipping firm of Peter Wright &
Sons, rising in six years from a clerkship to be a partner and moving
spirit at the age of 22.

In 1871 Mr. Griscom became one of the founders of the International
Navigation Company, through his direct negotiations with the late King
Leopold of Belgium, and was elected Vice President, becoming President
in 1888. After absorbing the Red Star Line, the company acquired the
Inman Line, renaming it the American Line and under Mr. Griscom’s
masterful management the International Navigation Company came to
possess one of the biggest and finest fleets in the shipping trade.

After his acquisition of the Inman Line Mr. Griscom began to build
palatial vessels, for those days, and in rapid succession added to his
fleet the New York, the Paris, the St. Paul, and the St. Louis---the
Lusitanias of their day. Through his energetic efforts, special
legislation was secured from Congress allowing the New York and the
Paris, which were British built, to sail under American registry.

Mr. Griscom was associated with J. P. Morgan in the formation of the
International Mercantile Marine Company, when in September 1902, the
capital stock of the International Navigation Company was increased to
$120,000,000 in order to provide the funds for the acquisition, through
the International Navigation Company, of the White Star Line, Atlantic
Transport Line, Leyland Line, and Dominion Line, the new so-called
“Shipping Trust,”￾ having a gross tonnage in excess of 1,000,000 tons.

Mr. Griscom continued as President of the new company until 1904, when
he resigned and became Chairman of the Board of Directors of the
International Mercantile Marine Company, which position he held until
his death. He had been ill for the past year, and had taken practically
no part in the management of the company.

Following the Titanic disaster, it was rumored early in September that
J. Bruce Ismay would resign as President to become Chairman of the Board
of Directors on the retirement of Mr. Griscom, which had been expected
before the end of the year on account of ill-health. His death, it was
said yesterday, would not create any change in the management, as Mr.
Griscom had taken no active interest in the affairs of the company for
some time.

Mr. Griscom was one of the founders and the first President of the
American Society of Naval Architects and Engineers. In 1889 he was one
of the American delegates to the International Marine Conference for
Revising the Rules of the Road at Sea. He was made an honorary member
of the Institute of Naval Architects of Great Britain, a distinction
conferred on but three others at that time.

The Queen of Holland conferred the decoration of Orange-Nassau upon Mr.
Griscom in recognition of the perfect discipline prevailing on the ships
of the International Navigation Company, as evinced by the rescue by the
St. Louis of the passengers and crew of a disabled Dutch steamship.

Mr. Griscom was a Director of the United States Steel Corporation, of
the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, and of more than a score of financial
institutions. He was a member of the Philadelphia, Rittenhouse, Union
League and New York Yacht Clubs, in addition to many other clubs and
societies in New York, Philadelphia and London.

In 1862 he married Miss Frances Canby Biddle of Philadelphia. He is
survived by his widow, three sons---Clement A. Griscom, Jr., Lloyd C.
Griscom, former Ambassador to Italy, and Rodman E. Griscom---and by two
daughters, Mrs. Samuel Bettle and Miss Frances Griscom.



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