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Many of the earliest books, particularly those dating back to the 1900s and before, are now extremely scarce and increasingly expensive. We are republishing these classic works in affordable, high quality, modern editions, using the original text and artwork.


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Many of the earliest books, particularly those dating back to the 1900s and before, are now extremely scarce and increasingly expensive. We are republishing these classic works in affordable, high quality, modern editions, using the original text and artwork.

38 review for America's 60 Families

  1. 5 out of 5

    Yifan (Evan) Xu (Hsu)

    Excerpts from "America's 60 Families"      ***Decay of democracy and rise of capital feudalism***      The uprush of the American fortunes, led by the monolithic Rockefeller accumulation, emphasizes that although the United States was once a great political democracy it has not remained one. Citizens may still be equals at the polls, where little is decided; but they are not equals at the bank tellers' wickets, where much is decided. The United States has produced, in the Standard Oil Company, t Excerpts from "America's 60 Families"      ***Decay of democracy and rise of capital feudalism***      The uprush of the American fortunes, led by the monolithic Rockefeller accumulation, emphasizes that although the United States was once a great political democracy it has not remained one. Citizens may still be equals at the polls, where little is decided; but they are not equals at the bank tellers' wickets, where much is decided. The United States has produced, in the Standard Oil Company, the Aluminum Company of America, E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, the Ford Motor Company, and other industrial enterprises, what are essentially feudal, dictatorially ruled, dynastic fiefs that make the old crown properties of Romanovs, Hohenzollerns, Hapsburgs, and Hanovers seem, by comparison, like will-o'-the-wisps, insecure and insubstantial.      Concentration of control has also come about by more simple and obvious processes that have been largely ignored, perhaps because of the absence of technical intricacies to challenge the research specialist, perhaps because the very lack of historical novelty in the processes has allowed them to pass by virtually unnoticed.      The control points of private wealth in industrial capitalistic society, as in feudal society, remain the partnership, the family, and the family alliance. It is the family that, in almost all cases, guides the banks and the banking partnerships which, as Anna Rochester shows, control the corporations.      The wealthiest Americans, with few exceptions, are already joined by a multiplicity of family ties, just as they are joined by interlocking directorates and mutual participations in economic and social undertakings. The "community of interest" of the rich to which the elder J. P. Morgan made profound public obeisance has become, to a startling degree, a joint family interest.            ***Method of calculating the wealth of 60 families***      One may deduce the taxable net incomes from the 1924 tax returns, and the entire accumulation represented by such incomes at five per cent.But there are two difficulties in estimatig how much wealth there really is.      1) 1924 incomes can be both reoccuring and nonreoccuring. Both could indicate significance of the families' wealth. Specially nonreoccuring incomes can be realized capital gains, profits from properties sold.      2) Some of their wealth are hidden in the tax-exempted assets.      3) the rate of profit to contrue the total wealth could be various other than static 5%.      Authors also stated: One special favor that makes the fortunes seem unduly small when projected from the 1924 tax figures and contrasted with official appraisals was the amazing administration of the Treasury Department by Andrew W. Mellon. Under this very wealthy man the widest latitude in the interpretation of tax laws was allowed people of wealth, as was subsequently revealed in a Senate investigation. It may therefore be that a closer approximation to the actual fortunes would be obtained by multiplying the taxed fortunes of 1924 by four.         ***Syndicates of the wealth***      Popular beliefs that men like Owen D. Young, of the General Electric Company; Walter S. Gifford, of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company; Thomas W. Lamont, of J. P. Morgan and Company; Albert H. Wiggin, until recently head of the Chase National Bank; Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., of General Motors; and Walter C. Teagle, of the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, are leaders in the entourage of great wealth.But Such figures, carefully publicized, are merely executives for the main groups of banking capital that represent the golden dynasties. These men have no independent power; they do not speak for themselves any more than do actors on a stage.      Real important person is Thomas W. Lamont. Lamont, in short, has been the First Consul de facto in the invisible Directory of postwar high finance and politics, a man consulted by presidents, prime ministers, governors of central banks, the directing intelligence behind the Dawes and Young Plans. Lamont is Protean; he is a diplomat, an editor, a writer, a publisher, a politician, a statesman--an international presence as well as a financier.         ***Wealth families as feudal Europe***      Whereas the titled dynasties of feudal Europe divided the continent territorially, their untitled American capitalist counterparts have divided their continent by industries.      The private banking partnerships and the informal alliance are the ramparts behind which the dominant families deploy      As we have observed, Morgan is not the wealthiest of our wealthy men. He derives his unique and perhaps unprecedented power from the massed resources of the many families and their corporations that stand behind him. The allegiance of these families was gradually won over a period of many decades by Morgan prestige, earned by a demonstrated ability in ruthless financial statesmanship and political intrigue exercised on behalf of the rich.      For highly paid and priviledged gold-collar professionals: they are not that rich, but servants of those rich families.      The individual partners of J. P. Morgan and Company are not, by strict standards, independently wealthy, but they are men gifted in many ways and possessed, of extraordinary financial acumen that is placed at the service of the Morgan clients; they are, too, adept in making oddly assorted but potent connections throughout the political and social fabric. Their rewards are fees, commissions, and opportunities to participate individually and collectively in big financial coupe.      The versatile Morgan partners themselves own very little stock in corporations, as was proved by recent corporation reports to the Federal Securities and Exchange Commission. It is the Morgan clients that own the stock; J. P. Morgan and Company mercy sees that the big stockholders are served in accordance with expectations.      This is the truth of I-banking. The partners own little stocks among the entire industries. Their customers own most of the industries' stocks.         ***JP Morgan and his place***      The most salient instance in which the Morgans referred to their puny participation was in rejoinder to the weighty charge that they maneuvered America into the World War, when J. P. Morgan and Company was purchasing agent for the Allies at a commission of one per cent. Whereas J. P. Morgan and Company has often been sternly criticized, the record shows that in recent decades its clients, excepting the Du Ponts, have scarcely been mentioned in condemnation.      The banking firm, absorbing the blows of public opinion, acts as a great buffer between the public and the ultimate beneficiaries of collective acts and policies that stir up public resentment.      All these families, it should now be dear, own more wealth than the individuals they deputize to watch over their interests. In general, they leave most of the supervision of fiscal affairs to J. P. Morgan and Company, or act upon Morgan advice, knowing it to be in their own interest. From time to time there are, to be sure, minor shifts of allegiance as between the Morgans and the Rockefellers, or the Morgans and the Mellons, but only some colossal blunder by J. P. Morgan and Company in serving its clients could lessen its power substantially.      Neither the Morgan firm nor its partners own much stock in any of these banks. There are Morgan partners or executives on all their boards, however, and the final decision on their operation, as all of Wall Street knows, is made by the Morgan partners.         ***How the control of Morgan's will extended to the entire industries?**      These 51 banks, etc., and 86 nonbanking corporations with their combined assets of $46,200,000,000 include foreign corporations with over three billion of assets. The American total--nearly 43 billion--represents nearly one-sixth the total wealth of all corporations in the United States. But like a medieval fortress, this inner stronghold is surrounded by open stretches on which maneuvers can take place only with the knowledge and good will of the ruling lord. Morgan control shades off into Morgan dominance and dominance shades off into Morgan influence.... We can list over 80 banks and other corporations with $16,500,000,000 of assets, mostly in some degree under Morgan influence.... These various connections, with their varying degrees of control, dominance and influence, bring roughly 377,600,000,000 of corporation assets into some relation to the Morgan groups.... The total within the United States--over $72,000,000,000 as of January 1, 1932--is more than one-fourth of American corporate wealth.(2)      All the financially dominant families are held together in their banking allegiances by a share in a single major type of enterprise or economic province. Their banks specialize in some single basic industry, or cluster of related industries, although fingers may stray into many other profitable economic pies. J. P. Morgan and Company and its affiliated banks have long dominated the provinces of steel, coal, and railroads. The Rockefellers control the province of petroleum through the Chase National Bank. The Corn Exchange Bank has become identified, in the main, with huge retail merchandising enterprises, but it is also the banker for the very important Allied Chemical and Dye Corporation in which Eugene Meyer is a large stockholder. The Mellon banks are based primarily on a monopoly of aluminum, with petroleum, steel, coal, and railroads of subsidiary interest.      All these groups, true enough, maintain positions throughout the industrial fabric. But each belongs principally to that sphere in which it wields virtually exclusive power. It has been only in certain of the newer industries, such as electric light and power, aviation, radio, bus transportation, chemicals, and automobiles, that in recent years the separate groups have maneuvered against each other. Each knows too well the punitive forces controlled by the others to hazard a major role where another group has a virtual monopoly.         ***Families' control over non-financial institutions***      Added to the families standing behind these massive financial phalanxes are the noncommercial foundations" and insurance companies which intensify industrial, financial, and political strength in the controllers of their finances. The institutional foundations, which may be termed impersonal fortunes, are endowed schools, universities, religious establishments, social service organizations, hospitals, and similar undertakings. They are vital not only to financial but to social control; the management and discretionary utilization of their funds is in the hands of various of the Wall Street agencies of banking capital, mostly of the Rockefellers and the Morgans.      Finally, to suggest the vast amount of power wielded by such an aggregation as J. P. Morgan and Company, let us briefly scan the Morgan-controlled American Telephone and Telegraph Company.      The twenty largest stockholders held 4.6 per cent of stock, but--there was no one among the myriad small stockholders strong enough to dispute their sway. Thus, the 20 largest stockholders under Morgan's control can determine the fate of AT&T.      Briefly, the greater the fractional distribution of share ownership among small stockholders, as Berle and Means illustrate with great detail in their epochal work, the more secure is the control of the managing directorship. Such control, even without ownership, is very valuable, for it is the directors that determine the daily operation patterns of the corporation.      So, directors on board without real control means that It is control of other people's money that brings the greatest profits at the least risk.         ***Large wealth go away in 3 generations?***      Robert H. Jackson, counsel of the Internal Revenue Bureau, in testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, August, 1935, declared:       "It is often asserted that large wealth is dissipated in three generations.... It was doubtless once true that all a grandfather saved from the fruits of his labor could be spent by a grandson. It is probably true today of very moderate fortunes. It is not true of large invested fortunes under present conditions. They not only perpetuate themselves, they grow."      "This is because they are now so large. A riotous-living heir to one of our larger fortunes would exhaust himself before he could exhaust the income alone of the estate. Furthermore, such estates are largely perpetuated in trusts, and every legal and economic obstacle to their dissipation is employed.... Most of the large estates as at present managed, we find, not only perpetuate themselves but are larger as they pass from generation to generation...."      Even though the provision made by William Rockefeller was commented upon as unusual by the newspapers, it is not extraordinary. "The modern strategy of finance capital in tying up family trusts," says Professor Jerome Davis in Capitalism and Its Culture, "makes the rise of an hereditary caste inevitable. John J. Gray, former analyst and examiner of the Interstate Commerce Commission, says: 'I know of but one large fortune probated in forty years not so tied up for about one hundred years.'"

  2. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The author makes a compelling case that the United States is more of a plutocracy, governed by the will of the 60 wealthiest families, than a true democracy. If you are interested in understanding how our society is truly governed, this book is an excellent resource. The author examines the influence of the wealthiest families on the economy, politics, media, education, philanthropy, and labor. Since this book was published in 1937, it focuses on the period from the end of the Civil War to the 1 The author makes a compelling case that the United States is more of a plutocracy, governed by the will of the 60 wealthiest families, than a true democracy. If you are interested in understanding how our society is truly governed, this book is an excellent resource. The author examines the influence of the wealthiest families on the economy, politics, media, education, philanthropy, and labor. Since this book was published in 1937, it focuses on the period from the end of the Civil War to the 1930s. It tells the story of the 60 wealthiest Gilded Age families (Rockefeller, Mellon, Carnegie, etc.) influence on American society. I have read several contemporary books about how the wealthy influence American politics and society (Who Rules America by Domhoff, Dark Money by Mayer 2016 and The One Percent Solution by Lafer, 2017). I decided to read this book to try to understand how the phenomenon of money in politics has influenced America society throughout our history. I found this book exceptionally well researched and well written, which made his case compelling and very interesting to read. I liked this book so much that I have bought the sequel to this book “The Rich and The Super Rich”, which the author published in 1968. It was a #1 best seller at the time. In the 1968 book, it looks like he conducts the same analysis of the influence of the wealthiest families on American society 30 years after this book was published in 1937. I have also purchased the authors final book, which he wrote at 91 years in 1994. It is called “What is Wrong with Us? The Natural Depravity of Mankind”. This book appears to be his summary of a lifetime of lessons he has learned analyzing human society.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Marty

    The lists of names and family connections sometimes seem endless but the picture painted is very compelling. The diffusion of these families since the 1930s just means that many descendants have fallen out of the inner and controlling circles. One wonders what the current picture is.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Almuhalab Saléh

  5. 5 out of 5

    Greg Burton

  6. 4 out of 5

    Venice

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tommy

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jake Huang

  9. 5 out of 5

    Beverly Watrous

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bea

    Paranoid and ponderous -- I quit reading it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dan Allosso

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  13. 5 out of 5

    emilio squillante

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ethan Sawyer

  15. 5 out of 5

    Donald

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jen

  17. 4 out of 5

    Aisha Perez

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mike Moskos

  19. 5 out of 5

    Paul

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alex Montano

  21. 5 out of 5

    Gnarly Authenticity .

  22. 4 out of 5

    Troubezkoj

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alex

  24. 4 out of 5

    North Loop Capital Management

  25. 5 out of 5

    David

  26. 4 out of 5

    Bud24

  27. 4 out of 5

    Chris Bellin

  28. 4 out of 5

    Van

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kawser Shovon

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kara

  31. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

  32. 4 out of 5

    Olivier

  33. 5 out of 5

    Sally Sawyer

  34. 5 out of 5

    Carter McLellan

  35. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  36. 5 out of 5

    Bill McBreen

  37. 4 out of 5

    Nadia Chait

  38. 4 out of 5

    Macartney

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