(born April 17, 1837, Hartford, Conn., U.S.—died March 31, 1913, Rome, Italy) U.S. financier. The son of a financier, he began his career as an accountant in 1857 and became an agent for his father's banking company in 1861. In 1871 he was named a partner in the firm of Drexel, Morgan, which became the chief source of U.S. government financing. In 1895 it became J.P. Morgan and Co. In the 1880s and '90s Morgan reorganized several major railroads, notably the Erie Railroad and the Northern Pacific. He was instrumental in achieving railroad rate stability and discouraging overly chaotic competition, and he became one of the world's most powerful railroad magnates, controlling about 5,000 mi (8,000 km) of railway by 1902. After the panic of 1893, Morgan formed a syndicate to supply the U.S. Treasury's depleted gold reserves. He led the financial community in averting a general financial collapse following the stock-market panic of 1907. He financed a series of giant industrial consolidations, organizing the mergers that formed General Electric, United States Steel Corp., and International Harvester Co. (see Navistar International Corp.). A noted art collector, he donated many artworks to the Metropolitan Museum of Art; his book collection and the building that housed it became the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York City.
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John Pierpont had careers as a tutor, attorney, merchant, and minister. In 1816 he began his religious work as a theology student, first in Baltimore and then at Harvard, afterwards accepting an appointment as pastor at the Hollis Street Church in Boston (1819-1845). During his tenure, Pierpont was instrumental in establishing Boston's English Classical School in 1821 and gained national recognition as an educator. He published two of the better-known early school readers in the United States, The American First Class Book (1823) and The National Reader (1827). However, Pierpont's latter years at the Hollis Street Church were characterized by controversy. His social activism for temperance and abolition angered some parishioners, and after a long public battle, he resigned in 1845.
After his resignation, Pierpont served as pastor of a Unitarian church in Troy, New York (1845-1849), and then led the First Parish Church (Unitarian) in Medford, Massachusetts (1849-1858). He ran for Massachusetts governor during the 1840s as a Liberty Party candidate, and in 1850 as a Free Soil Party candidate for the US House of Representatives. After two weeks’ service as a 76-year-old military chaplain with the 22nd Massachusetts Volunteer's Regiment during the Civil War, Pierpont was given an appointment in the Treasury Department in Washington, which he held from 1861 until his death.
Pierpont gained a literary reputation with his book Airs of Palestine: A Poem (1816), re-published in an anthology by the same name in 1840. He also published moral literature, such as Cold Water Melodies and Washington Songster (comp. 1842). In addition, he is probably the anonymous "gentleman" who co-authoredThe Drunkard; or, The Fallen Saved (1844), attributed to W. H. Smith, an actor and stage manager at Moses Kimball's Boston Museum. The Drunkard quickly became one of the most popular temperance plays in America.
Pierpont's many published sermons include, among others, The Burning of the Ephesian Letters (1833), Jesus Christ Not a Literal Sacrifice (1834), New Heavens and a New Earth (1837), Moral Rule of Political Action (1839), National Humiliation (1840), and A Discourse on the Covenant with Judas (1842). With publication of Phrenology and the Scriptures (1850), Pierpont became known not only as a reform lecturer, but also as an expert on phrenology and spiritualism.
Pierpont was an important influence on reform-minded antebellum poets. Along with John Greenleaf Whittier’s verse, Pierpont’s poems were frequently recited at public antislavery meetings. Oliver Johnson, a leading antislavery publisher and Garrison associate, published Pierpont’s Anti-Slavery Poems in 1843. The collection contains poems that had appeared mostly in the poetry columns of The Liberator and The National Anti-Slavery Standard. Pierpont’s writings were also anthologized widely in antislavery poetry collections, such as William Allen’s Autographs of Freedom (1853).
John Pierpont also wrote the song "Jingle Bells" and there is a truly lovely story about this in Robert Fulghum's "It Was on Fire When I Lay Down on It"
Contrary to some inaccurate histories and attributions, John Pierpont was not the author of the Christmas song “Jingle Bells”; its author was his son, James Lord Pierpont (1822-1893), who (ironically) served in the First Georgia Cavalry and wrote patriotic hymns for the Confederacy. John Pierpont was also the maternal grandfather of financier J. Pierpont Morgan. For detailed genealogical information, see 20>16232 in "PIERPONT (PIERREPONT[E], PIERPOINT, etc.) GENEALOGIES, With Focus on the New England Pier(re)ponts of America."