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Article: John Jacob Astor
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==Biography==
 
==Biography==
 
===Early life===
 
===Early life===
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John Jacob Astor's ancestors were [[Waldensian]] refugees from [[Savoy]], and Astor remained a member of the [[Reformed church]] throughout his life.<ref name="books.google.com"/> He was born in [[Walldorf]],<ref>{{cite book|last=Johnson|first=Rossiter (ed.) |title=The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans|publisher=The Biographical Society|location=Boston|year=1904|pages=unpaginated|quote=ASTOR, John Jacob, merchant, was born at Walldorf near Heidelberg, Germany, July 17, 1768|url=http://books.google.com/?id=vmlmAAAAMAAJ&pg=PT159&dq=john+jacob+astor+born+(waldorf+OR+walldorf)|accessdate=2009-06-07}}</ref><ref>{{cite journal|year=1865|title=John Jacob Astor|journal=Harper’s New Monthly Magazine|volume=30|pages=308–323|url=http://books.google.com/?id=tX8CAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA309&dq=john+jacob+astor+born+(waldorf+OR+walldorf)|accessdate=2009-06-07|publisher=Harper's Magazine Co.}}</ref> near [[Heidelberg]] in the old [[Palatinate (region)|Palatinate]] which became part of the [[Duchy of Baden]] in 1803 (now in [[Rhein-Neckar-Kreis]] in the state of [[Baden-Württemberg]], Germany). He was the son of Maria Magdalena (née Vorfelder) and Johann Jacob Astor (July 7, 1724-April 18, 1816), a butcher.<ref>[http://books.google.ca/books?id=VBOZyVuMaGgC&pg=PA16&lpg=PA16&dq=Maria+Magdalena+Vorfelder&source=bl&ots=jOj2hpvjRC&sig=omGablajCWCq8fWZa__Vdr6ifBs&hl=en&redir_esc=y]</ref> The son's career began with working in [[Germany]] as assistant in his father's business as a dairy salesman. In 1779 at age 16 he emigrated to [[London]], where he learned English while working for his brother, George Astor, [[manufacturing]] [[musical instruments]].<ref>Herbert C. Ebeling: ''Johann Jakob Astor - Ein Lebensbild''. pp. 63-69.</ref>
 
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==Biography==
Astor arrived in the United States in March 1784, just after the end of the [[American Revolutionary War|Revolutionary War]]. His older brother [[Henry Astor]] preceded him to New York, establishing a butcher shop with which John Jacob Astor was initially involved. He traded furs with Indians and in the late 1780s started a fur goods shop in [[New York City]]. He also became the New York agent of his brother's musical instrument business.<ref name="nie">{{Cite NIE|Astor, John Jacob (merchant)|display=Astor, John Jacob. An American merchant|year=1905}}</ref>
 
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Astor married Sarah Todd on September 19, 1785.<ref>Herbert C. Ebeling. ''Johann Jakob Astor - Ein Lebensbild'', p. 141.</ref> Although she brought him a [[dowry]] of only $300, she possessed a frugal mind and a business judgment that he declared better than that of most merchants, and she assisted him in the practical details of his business.<ref name="appletons">{{Cite Appletons'|Astor, John Jacob|year=1900}}</ref>
 
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===Fortune from fur trade===
 
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Astor took advantage of the [[Jay Treaty]] between [[Kingdom of Great Britain|Great Britain]] and the United States in 1794, which opened new markets in Canada and the [[Great Lakes (North America)|Great Lakes]] region. Then in London, Astor at once made a contract with the Northwest Company of Montreal and Quebec (then the magnate of the Canadian Northwest fur trade). He imported furs from Montreal to New York, and shipped them to all parts of Europe.<ref name="americana">{{Cite Americana|wstitle=Astor, John Jacob (merchant)|display=Astor, John Jacob, American merchant}}</ref> By 1800 he had amassed almost a quarter of a million dollars, and had become one of the leading figures in the [[fur trade]]. In 1800, following the example of the ''[[Empress of China (1783)|Empress of China]]'', the first American trading vessel to [[China]], Astor traded furs, teas and [[sandalwood]] with [[Guangzhou|Canton]] in China, and greatly benefited from it.
 
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The U.S. [[Embargo Act of 1807|Embargo Act]] in 1807, however, disrupted his import/export business. With the permission of President [[Thomas Jefferson]], Astor established the [[American Fur Company]] on April 6, 1808. He later formed subsidiaries: the [[Pacific Fur Company]], and the Southwest Fur Company (in which Canadians had a part), in order to control fur trading in the [[Columbia River]] and Great Lakes areas.
 
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His Columbia River trading post at [[Fort Astoria]] (established in April 1811) was the first United States community on the Pacific coast. He financed the overland [[Astor Expedition]] in 1810–12 to reach the outpost. Members of the expedition were to discover [[South Pass]], through which hundreds of thousands of settlers on the [[Oregon Trail|Oregon]], [[California Trail|California]] and [[Mormon Trail|Mormon]] trails passed through the [[Rocky Mountains]].
 
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Astor's fur trading ventures were again disrupted when the British captured his trading posts during the [[War of 1812]]. In 1816, he joined the opium smuggling trade. His American Fur Company purchased ten tons of Turkish opium, then shipped the contraband item to [[Guangzhou|Canton]] on the packet ship ''Macedonian''. Astor later left the China opium trade and sold solely to England.<ref>{{Cite web|url=http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/heroin/etc/history.html|title=The Opium Kings: Opium Throughout History|work=[[Frontline (U.S. TV series)|Frontline]]|publisher=PBS|accessdate=September 4, 2011}}</ref>
 
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Astor's business rebounded in 1817 after the [[Congress of the United States|U.S. Congress]] passed a [[Protectionism|protectionist]] law that barred foreign traders from U.S. territories. The American Fur Company came to dominate trading in the area around the Great Lakes. In 1822, Astor established the [[Astor House]] on [[Mackinac Island]] as headquarters for the reorganized American Fur Company, making the island a metropolis of the fur trade. A lengthy description based on documents, diaries etc. was given by [[Washington Irving]] in his travelogue ''[[Astoria (book)|Astoria]]''. Astor's commercial connections extended over the entire globe, and his ships were found in every sea.<ref name="nie"/>
 
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In 1804, Astor purchased from [[Aaron Burr]] what remained of a 99-year lease on property in Manhattan. At the time, Burr was serving as vice president under [[Thomas Jefferson]] and desperately needed the purchase price of $62,500. The lease was to run until 1866. Astor began subdividing the land into nearly 250 lots and subleased them. His conditions were that the tenant could do whatever they wish with the lots for twenty-one years, after which they must renew the lease or Astor would take back the lot.
 
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===Real estate and retirement===
 
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Astor began buying land in New York in 1779 and acquired sizable holdings along the waterfront. After the turn of the century, flush with China trade profits, his interest in real estate become more systematic, more ambitious, and more calculating. In 1803 he bought a 70 acre farm that ran west of Broadway to the Hudson river between 42nd and 46th streets. That same year, and the following year, he bought considerable holdings from the disgraced Aaron Burr.<ref>Burrows, Edwin G.; Wallace, Mike (1998). ''Gotham A History of New York City to 1898''. Oxford University Press. p. 337. ISBN 978-0-19-511634-2</ref>
 
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In the 1830s, John Jacob Astor foresaw that the next big boom would be the build-up of New York, which would soon emerge as one of the world’s greatest cities. Astor withdrew from the American Fur Company, as well as all his other ventures, and used the money to buy and develop large tracts of Manhattan [[real estate]]. Predicting the rapid growth northward on [[Manhattan Island]], Astor purchased more and more land beyond the current [[city limits]]. Astor rarely built on his land, and instead let others pay rent to use it.
 
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After retiring from his business, Astor spent the rest of his life as a patron of culture. He supported the [[ornithologist]] [[John James Audubon]], the poet/writer [[Edgar Allan Poe]], and the [[presidential campaign]] of [[Henry Clay]].
 
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At the time of his death in 1848, Astor was the wealthiest person in the United States, leaving an estate estimated to be worth at least $20 million. His estimated net worth, if calculated as a fraction of the U.S. [[gross domestic product]] at the time, would have been equivalent to $110.1 billion in 2006 [[United States dollar|U.S. dollar]]s, making him the fourth richest person in American history.<ref name=forbes>{{Cite web |url=http://www.forbes.com/home/business/2007/09/14/richest-americans-alltime-biz_cx_pw_as_0914ialltime_slide_5.html?thisSpeed=30000 |title=The All-Time Richest Americans |publisher=Forbes.com |date=September 14, 2007 |postscript=<!-- Bot inserted parameter. Either remove it; or change its value to "." for the cite to end in a ".", as necessary. -->{{inconsistent citations}}}}.</ref><ref>In [http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2007/fortune/0702/gallery.richestamericans.fortune/3.html ''Fortune Magazine''<nowiki>'</nowiki>s richest Americans], with an estimated wealth at death of $20,000,000, Astor's Wealth/GDP ratio equalled 1/107.</ref> An estimate based on inflation from the legally set American gold standard rate of $21 per ounce in the 1850s<ref>''Life'', December 12, 1960, p.16</ref> would result in a much more conservative net worth of $1.272 billion in 2011<ref>Based on a New York spot price $1,336 on January 31, 2011</ref> dollars.
 
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In his will, he left $400,000 to build the [[Astor Library]] for the New York public (later consolidated with other libraries to form [[New York Public Library]]), and $50,000 for a poorhouse and orphanage in his German hometown, [[Walldorf]]. The ''Astorhaus'' is now a museum honoring the city's ancestor Johann Jakob Astor and a renowned festhall for marriages. Further Astor donated $25,000 to the German Society of the City of New York, whose chairman he was from 1837 until 1841. Also $30,000 were to be used for a professor's chair in [[German literature]] at [[Columbia University]], but due to differences with the deanship this donation was erased from the testament.
 
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Astor left the bulk of his fortune to his second son, [[William Backhouse Astor, Sr.]] His eldest son, John Jacob Astor II, had a mental disability and Astor left enough money to care for him for the rest of his life.
 
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John Jacob Astor is buried in the [[Trinity Churchyard Cemetery]] in the [[New York City]] [[borough (New York City)|borough]] of [[Manhattan]] because many members of his family were members of that church despite Astor remaining a member of the local [[Reformed Church in America|Reformed congregation]] to his death.<ref name="books.google.com"/> [[Herman Melville]] used Astor as a symbol of the earliest fortunes in New York in his novella ''[[Bartleby, the Scrivener]]''.
 
 
The pair of marble lions that sit by the entrance of the [[New York Public Library]] at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street were originally named Leo Astor and Leo Lenox, after Astor and [[James Lenox]], who founded the library. Then they were called Lord Astor and Lady Lenox (both lions are males). Mayor [[Fiorello LaGuardia]] renamed them "Patience" and "Fortitude" during the [[Great Depression]].
 
 
In 1908, when the [[association football]] club [[FC Astoria Walldorf]] was formed in his town of birth, it was named Astoria in his and the family's honor.<ref>[http://www.fussball.de/vereinsnamen-serie-fc-astoria-walldorf/id_52005140/index "Warum heißen die so? Heute: FC Astoria Walldorf"] {{de icon}}. Fussball.de. December 8, 2011. Retrieved December 9, 2011.</ref>
 
   
 
== Descendants ==
 
== Descendants ==
Reason: ANN scored at 0.902365
Reporter Information
Reporter: JimmiXzS (anonymous)
Date: Thursday, the 13th of October 2016 at 02:37:37 PM
Status: Reported
Friday, the 7th of August 2015 at 09:04:27 PM #100367
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Thursday, the 13th of October 2016 at 02:37:42 PM #106399
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