John Jacob Astor

By | Mar 29, 2012

The first John Jacob Astor was an early 19th century businessman who when he died on March 29, 1848 was considered the richest man in America. Astor was born in Waldorf, Germany and moved to London when he was 16.

Astor fortune was due to the business of buying and selling furs. He heard that money could be made from fur trading while in London and moved to America in 1783. By the end of the 18th century he had established trading posts along the Missouri and Columbia Rivers and had a fleet of ships transporting furs all over the world.

It was on June 23, 1810 that Astor formally established the Pacific Fur Company. This was a joint venture of Astor and the American Fur Company, also owned by Astor, to begin fur trading in western America. His plans was to establish a settlement at the mouth of the Columbia River and trade with the eastern land of Russia and China. This plan failed and during the War of 1812, he sold the company to the rival North West Company based in Montreal, Canada

Astor found his fortunes rising again when in 1817 Congress passed a law banning foreign traders from the territories of the United States. This enabled Astor to become the top trader on the Great Lakes area.

Astor foresaw that New York would someday become the premier city of the United States and in the 1830’s he began purchasing land on Manhattan Island.

Another John Jacob Astor, the fourth to hold the name and the Great Grand Son of the first, died on the maiden voyage of the Titanic. He and his 18 year old wife, Astor was 47, were returning from their honeymoon in Europe. His new bride was pregnant and she wished to give birth in New York. She survived and the baby also named John Jacob Astor was born on April 14, 1912.


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