Tom Lamont

I owe a couple people a some thoughts on my favorite character in the history of American finance.

Here’s the first and last paragraphs of his all-too-brief Wikipedia page (links retained):

Lamont was born in Claverack, New York. He graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1888 and earned his degree from Harvard University in 1892. He became a generous benefactor of the school once he had amassed a fortune, notably funding the building of Lamont Library. After 1910, he became a partner of J.P. Morgan & Co., and served as a U.S. financial advisor abroad in the 1920s and 1930s. During the 1919 Paris negotiations leading up to the Treaty of Versailles, Lamont was selected as one of two representatives of the United States Department of the Treasury on the American delegation. He was at that time a member of the Council of Foreign Relations. He played a leading role for Morgan in directing both the Dawes Plan and the Young Plan. . . .

Lamont was an influential member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and one of the most important agents for the Morgan investments abroad. He was an unofficial mentor both to the (second) Woodrow Wilson and the Herbert Hoover administrations, and informed both the Dawes Plan and the Young Plan.

While I’m at it, I can’t resist including the synopsis paragraph of his son’s (much longer) Wikipedia entry:

Corliss Lamont (March 28, 1902–April 26, 1995), was a socialist philosopher, and advocate of various left-wing and civil liberties causes. As a part of his political activities he was the Chairman of National Council of American-Soviet Friendship starting from early 1940s. He was the great-uncle of 2006 Democratic Party nominee for the United States Senate from Connecticut, Ned Lamont.[1]

Is there a better illustration of the Cathedral in action?

Ron Chernow’s book, The House of Morgan, contains a couple of nuggets that we will need to finish our brief portrait:

In extreme cases in the 1930s, the House of Morgan would function as an unfettered government in its own right, conducting secret foreign policy at odds with that of Washington.

In less extreme cases, the House of Morgan would simply direct Washington’s foreign policy.

One more quote, if you’ll indulge me:

His son Corliss, a socialist and later a professor of philosophy at Columbia, saw his father’s foreign-policy views as spotless: "Although my father was a successful banker, and a Republican in politics, he was in essence a liberal, particularly on international affairs."

Following the death of JP Morgan, Lamont eventually emerged as the de facto head of JP Morgan bank. He also conducted US foreign policy, except for rare instances in which USG disagreed with him, in which case he conducted the foreign policy of his choosing anyway until USG changed its mind (sometimes it took a while for USG to catch up to Lamont). Lamont negotiated the agreements that ended WWI and the subsequent plans that dealt with the problem of German reparations. He advised Wilson and Hoover. Did I mention he ran a bank as well? He also went to Harvard, naturally.

His socialist son – don’t forget the "National Council of American-Soviet Friendship" – thought he had "spotless" foreign policy views . . . and Lamont was arguably running US foreign policy. Was this in your history book?

His great nephew beat Lieberman in the Democratic Party – interesting, no? American politics are full of these little quirks if you’re paying attention.

This brief portrait just scratches the surface, but I promise that a little digging, by anyone who is interested, will pay off.

7 Responses to Tom Lamont

  1. Difranco says:

    I’ve never seen the term “Cathedral”?

    What do you mean my this?

  2. RS says:

    Cathedral = mencius moldbug’s name for the leftist government-academia-media supercomplex and the associated memeplex.

    This possibly-interesting book seems apropos:

    In a blistering review of America’s emerging plutocratic imperial state published in 1922, South Dakota’s first Senator to the United States Senate, Republican Richard F. Pettigrew, opened his 1922 book “Triumphant Plutocracy: The Story Of American Public Life From 1870 To 1920” (later published as “Imperial Washington”), warning:

    The American people should know the truth about American public life. They have been lied to so much and hoodwinked so often that it would seem only fair for them to have at least one straight-from-the shoulder statement concerning this government “of the people, by the people and for the people,” about whose inner workings the people know almost nothing.

    The common people of the United States, like the same class of people in every other country, mean well, but they are ill-informed. Floundering about in their ignorance, they are tricked and robbed by those who have the inside information and who therefore know how to take advantage of every turn in the wheel of fortune. The people voted for Roosevelt because he talked of “trust-busting” at the same time that he was sanctioning the purchase of the Tennessee Coal and Iron Company by the Steel Trust. They supported Wilson “because he kept us out of war” at the same time that Wilson was making preparations to enter the war. The rulers can negotiate “secret treaties” at home and abroad. The people, knowing nothing of either the theory or the practice of secret diplomacy, commit all sorts of follies for which they themselves must later foot the bill.

  3. njartist49 says:

    Thanks RS for the reference to the book. I am converting it to a Word document from downloaded text as I read it.

    Very interesting so far.

  4. […] – “Blacks and Gays“, “I’m Underpaid“, “Tom Lamont“, “HBD, Taxes and […]

  5. […] tried to illustrate this point in a post last week. To recap, Tom Lamont was the effective head of JP Morgan, during a period in which large US banks […]

  6. […] it’s so. Foseti refines his position a bit. The line of thought seems to have started with another post on a blue-blooded Wall Street fellow who was very cozy with the […]

  7. […] of Foseti’s favorite character from 20th century American History is Tom Lamont, and one of my favorite picture elements is Charlotte Anita Whitney, about whom I came to know […]

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