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


248 pages, 26 black-and-white illustrations, $29.95 cloth

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 him, 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, Katharine — was the most influential financier of the 19th century.

Drexel and his firm quietly pioneered many of today’s financial and business strategies, 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 him to become the public face for the firm, Drexel was able to avoid attention and nurture his extended family.

Today, 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.

Because Drexel gave no interviews, kept no diaries, held no public offices and destroyed most of his personal papers, Rottenberg had to painstakingly 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 people can accomplish if they don’t mind who gets the credit, but as “The Man Who Made Wall Street” shows, the balance has finally been paid in full.

—University of Pennsylvania Press

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Originally published on October 11, 2001