Very few citizens have the opportunity to save the government from financial collapse and make money in the process. John Pierpont Morgan did. When President Grover Cleveland needed gold to back the currency, Morgan, and other bankers under his leadership, gave the government gold in exchange for United States government bonds. Later, he and the other bankers sold the bonds for big profits.
How did Morgan get so rich in the first place? His father was a very successful businessman who saw that his son had the best education at Germany's distinguished University of Göttingen.
In 1871, Morgan became a partner in a New York City firm. By 1895, the firm took his name. J.P. Morgan and Company soon grew to be one of the most powerful banking houses in the country. Morgan was very good at making failing companies into profitable companies. After the 1893 financial panic, he helped the railroad industry recover. He merged railroad companies and became a stockholder in every one of them. He made a fortune in railroads.
In 1898, Morgan formed the Federal Steel Company. Again he merged with other steel companies, forming the huge United States Steel Corporation. He made another fortune in steel.
Morgan helped the government a second time in 1907. During a Wall Street crisis, his bank took government deposits. But not everyone in the government was impressed with his financial wizardry. In 1912 a federal committee investigated him for creating unfair monopolies by combining small companies into one big corporation.
Like many wealthy men of his time, Morgan was a philanthropist. He collected fine art. He donated many valuable works to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.