Ferdinand Lundberg. America's 60 Families. New York: Vanguard Press, 1937. Chapter IV: "The Politics of Pecuniary Aggrandizement: 1912-1920", subchapters 4 & 5, pp. 133-148
The World War was the overshadowing event of both Wilson Administrations, and marked another stage in the upward march of the American multimillionaires.
The economic royalists offered leadership in bringing the nation into the war; the country---farmers, organized and unorganized labor, the middle classes, professionals, and intellectuals---accepted that leadership. The alternative confronting the millionaires as the world market was torn asunder by the warring nations was domestic economic stagnation, which would have brought down upon them the concentrated wrath of all classes.
The search which historians have made for individuals who caused the war, and who caused America's entry into the war, is probably futile. As some historians have pointed out, the causes of the war were multiple, and operative many decades before 1914.
The question which strikes at the heart of the war situation like a dagger is not, Who caused the war? It is not even, Who brought America into the war? The revealing question is, Who profited by the war, pocketed the profit, and defends the profit? The major portion of the war profits, the fact is, went into the hands of the wealthiest families.
The victorious European powers achieved conquests at the expense of wartime enemies, although the gains did not come anywhere near balancing the cost. But the United States magnanimously refused to participate in the parceling out of economic spoils under the Treaty of Versailles. The Wall Street denizens could afford to underwrite this decision on the part of their politicians, because their conquest took the form of gain at the expense of the American people itself.
The American soldiers fighting in the trenches, the people working at home, the entire nation under arms, were fighting, not only to subdue Germany, but to subdue themselves. That there is nothing metaphysical about this interpretation becomes clear when we observe that the total wartime expenditure of the United States government from April 6, 1917, to October 31, 1919, when the last contingent of troops returned from Europe, was $35,413,000,000. Net corporation profits for the period January 1, 1916, to July, 1921, when wartime industrial activity was finally liquidated, were $38,000,000,000, or approximately the amount of the war expenditures. More than two-thirds of these corporation profits were taken by precisely those enterprises which the Pujo Committee had found to be under the control of the "Money Trust."
Most of the war's cost was financed by pledging the government's credit, i. e., the people's credit; and this pledge at the end of the war amounted to nearly $30,000,000,000, or more than thirty times the prewar national debt. The only way the people could recover some of this money was by taxing the corporations, and the Republican Administrations which held power after 1920 saw that taxes on the rich were sharply reduced rather than increased. What the government did not permit the rich to keep legally they kept by practising wholesale tax evasion, as revealed by various Senate investigations.
The beginning of war was fortunate for J. P. Morgan and Company, sadly involved in the $400,000,000 collapse of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad's financial structure. In 1914, despite the increase in traffic in the two decades during which Morgan had controlled the enterprise, the finances of the New Haven were in ruin. As Charles A. Beard says of this railroad, it "was so loaded with stocks and bonds that it collapsed with an awful crash, spreading ruin far and wide among widows, orphans, and other security holders in New England and giving an awful shock to those who had bought common shares at a high figure in the old days of prudence."
The shambles within the New Haven Railroad would impugn every pretense of J. P. Morgan and Company to social rectitude, if nothing else did. The report of the Interstate Commerce Commission showed that $12,000,000 had been secretly abstracted from the railroad's treasury by J. P. Morgan and Company. C. S. Mellen, president of the New Haven, testified he had warned the New Haven directors that stock of the New York, Westchester and Boston Railroad was not worth ten cents a pound, yet the New Haven graciously relieved J. P. Morgan and his associates of this white elephant for a handsome price. From June 30, 1903, to June 30, 1913, the Interstate Commerce Commission showed, J. P. Morgan and Company, which took control in 1893, had caused the New Haven's capitalization to be increased from $93,000,000 to $417,000,000, of which increase only $120,000,000 was spent on the railroad and the balance on outside speculations through 336 subsidiary companies. The railroad, among other things, bought at fancy prices undesirable traction properties from Senator Aldrich.
The New York World of February 1, 1914, observed that the New Haven stockholders had been "swindled, robbed, and ruined" by "cold, calculated villainy" which had left the railroad "bled white." "Thousands of men," said this newspaper, "are in jail for offenses against society which are picayunish in comparison with this stupendous achievement in respectable robbery."
By midsummer of 1914 the outlook was decidedly black for the House of Morgan, and there were those who predicted it would soon go the way of Jay Cooke and Company. The beginning of the European hostilities, however, found J. P. Morgan and Company fortuitously appointed fiscal agent in the United States for the British and French governments. As such it took charge of the vast war purchases of the Allies in this country. The crisis for the banking house was averted.
As revealed in 1936 by the Nye Senate Committee, Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan on August 10, 1914, less than two weeks after war began, informed President Wilson that J. P. Morgan and Company had inquired whether there would be any official objection to making a loan to the French government through the Rothschilds. Bryan warned the President that "money is the worst of all contrabands," and that if the loan were permitted, the interests of the powerful persons making it would be enlisted on the side of the borrower, making neutrality difficult, if not impossible.
On August 15 Bryan wrote to J. P. Morgan and Company, "Loans made by American bankers to any foreign nation which is at war are inconsistent with the true spirit of neutrality." This statement formally committed the United States against loans to warring Europe. Soon afterward Bryan was constrained to reverse himself, which he did privately.
The ever-facile New York bankers, however, now set about approaching their Washington officials in another way. On October 23, 1914, Samuel McRoberts, vice-president of the National City Bank, informed Robert Lansing, counselor of the State Department, that the bank desired to stimulate trade by assisting foreign governments to buy in the American market but was unable to do so with the available supply of credit.
That evening, with Bryan out of town, Lansing called on Wilson. Between them they drew a Jesuitical distinction between credits and loans: credits were held to be permissible. Then Wilson authorized Lansing to convey his "impressions" to such persons as were "entitled to hear them," upon the express understanding that they would be regarded as Lansing's "impressions" and that Lansing "had no authority to speak for the President or the government."
On the evening of October 24, 1914, Lansing transmitted his "impressions" to a mysterious, unnamed emissary from J. P. Morgan and Company (apparently Willard Straight) at the Metropolitan Club of New York, which had been founded by the elder J. P. Morgan. Two days later, at the State Department, Lansing gave his "impressions" to an agent of the National City Bank. But when Vanderlip, former president of the bank, was asked by the Nye Committee to supply details he suffered a convenient lapse of memory.
Knowing the relations between Dodge and Wilson we may assume that during all these pourparlers Dodge was in constant touch with the President. The Nye Committee, unfortunately, did not inquire into the Dodge-Wilson friendship.
Through J. P. Morgan and Company the Allied governments, after the Lansing-Wilson "impressions" had been transmitted, began buying supplies in large quantities on bank credits. All the banks participated in the business, with National City in the forefront of the commercial institutions. It was some time, however, before the new influx of orders was felt.
The financial risk daily became greater, of course, as German military successes piled up in one theater of the war after another.
Meanwhile, in December, 1914, Henry P. Davison, Morgan partner in charge of making financial arrangements with the Allies, assured David Lloyd George, Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the United States within six months would lift the restrictions against formal loans to the Allies." Davison, as a high ranking member of the de facto government, knew whereof he spoke; it was only a little more than six months before Wilson secretly gave permission for the flotation of the huge Anglo-French Loan.
To break the ground for this loan in government circles Benjamin Strong, Governor of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, former official of the Bankers Trust Company (Morgan), wrote on August 14, 1915, to Colonel House, warning that the exchange rate of the pound against the dollar was slipping. This meant, presumably, that England's power to purchase and to pay was diminishing. The Nye Committee tried to establish whether the slump of sterling was not the outcome of a maneuver by the American bankers in collaboration with the Bank of England to frighten the Washington Administration into permitting a loan for the ostensible purpose of rehabilitating the pound.
Then Secretary McAdoo was given a copy of a letter from J. B. Forgan, president of the First National Bank of Chicago (Morgan influence) to F. A. Delano, Vice-Governor of the Federal Reserve Board. Forgan asked what the government's attitude would now be toward an Allied loan, as funds were needed which the banks professed could no longer be supplied by means of open credits. On August 21, 1915, McAdoo wrote to Wilson, "Our prosperity is dependent upon our continued and enlarged foreign trade. To preserve that we must do everything we can to assist our customers to buy. ... To maintain our prosperity we must finance it. Otherwise we must stop, and that would be disastrous."
On August 25, 1915, Secretary Lansing, who supplanted Bryan, sent Wilson a copy of Forgan's letter, with his own covering opinion that changed conditions must be recognized and that "the large debts which result from purchases by the belligerent governments require some method of funding these debts in this country."
On August 26 Wilson wrote to Lansing: "My opinion in this matter, compendiously stated, is that we should say that 'parties would take no action either for or against such a transaction,' but that this should be orally conveyed, so far as we are concerned, and not put in writing." Wilson, in short, was fearful that evidence of his endorsement of lending to the Allies would leak out. Lansing informed the bankers of this new turn of Wilson's mind.
Now, before coming to flotation of the Allied loans by J. P. Morgan and Company and the National City Bank, let us retrace our steps to April, 1915, when Thomas W. Lamont, partner in J. P. Morgan and Company made a speech before the American Academy of Political and Social Science at Philadelphia. This speech was neither reported in the newspapers nor was it brought to light by the Nye Committee. [FOOTNOTE: See Annals of the Academy of Political Science, Volume 60, July, 1915, pages 106-112.]
The value of this long-hidden extraordinary speech resides in the fact that it tends to prove the bankers were interested in seeing the European war continue so that they might extract from it maximum profits. After reviewing details of the financial situation since the beginning of the war and after pointing to the great increase in American exports, Lamont dangled before his listeners the prospect of the United States becoming the financial center of the world. Factors pro and con relating to this development were enumerated by Lamont, who continued:
"Another factor, depending upon the duration of the war, is the extent to which we shall buy back American securities still held by foreign investors. . . . If we should continue to buy such securities back on a large scale-and the chances are that if the war continues long enough [sic!] we shall do that---then we should no longer be in the position of remitting abroad vast sums every year in the way of interest.... We should be paying the interest upon our debts to our own people [banks], not to foreigners. Such a development would be of the utmost importance for this country financially.
"A third factor, and that, too, is dependent upon the duration of the war [sic!] is as to whether we shall become lenders to the foreign nations upon a really large scale. I have pointed out that since the war began we have loaned direct to foreign governments something over two hundred million dollars. Yet this is a comparatively small sum. Shall we become lenders upon a really stupendous scale to these foreign governments? Shall we become lenders for the development of private or semipublic enterprises in South America and other parts of the world, which up to date have been commercially financed by Great Britain, France, and Germany? If the war continues long enough to encourage us [sic!] to take such a position, and if we have the resources to grapple with it, then inevitably we shall become a creditor instead of a debtor nation, and such a development, sooner or later, would certainly tend to bring about the dollar, instead of the pound sterling, as the international basis of exchange."
After this delineation of the glittering pecuniary possibilities in the war Lamont said, with characteristic histrionic casualness, "These thoughts I have thrown out simply in the way of inquiry and suggestion."
The Lamont document is of first-class historical significance when read in conjunction with the evidence taken by the Nye Committee. It establishes for the first time on the record the conscious economic motivation in J. P. Morgan and Company and the Wall Street bankers in general for inducing the United States government to take the course it did subsequently take, although such motivation has always been publicly denied by the partners of J. P. Morgan and Company.
And it was Lamont who, when the Federal Reserve refused to rediscount English war notes on purchases, advised the Bank of England to discontinue buying, temporarily, thereby frightening the entire business community. Very soon afterward Wilson gave his roundabout permission to the bankers to float Ally loans.
In late 1914, and throughout 1915 and 1916, leading figures of wealth, and their agents in press, pulpit, and rostrum, carried on a vigorous propaganda in favor of the Allies, against Germany. The newspapers particularly did all in their power to insure the success of this campaign.
After President Wilson was maneuvered into permitting loans to the Allies, J. P. Morgan and Company in October, 1915, headed a syndicate of the leading banks which floated the $500,000,000 Anglo-French Loan. The biggest individual subscribers were the Guggenheim brothers (copper), James Stillman, J. P. Morgan, George F. Baker, Andrew Carnegie, Vincent Astor, Otto H. Kahn, Hetty Green, William H. Clark (copper), Charles M. Schwab of Bethlehem Steel, and Samuel Untermyer, New York lawyer. In the first year $620,000,000 and in the next year, up to the fall of 1917, $600,000,000 was advanced. The leading insurance companies, banks, and corporations as well were induced by their Wall Street masters to stock up with this paper, knitting the nation's finances into the war fabric on the Allied side.
Early in 1917 the Allied governments, which now owed the American bankers and their clients nearly $1,500,000,000, had been brought virtually to their knees by the German armies, and it was believed that the limit of Allied credit had been reached. In March, 1917, the Czar's government, which had also been fighting to make the world safe for democracy, collapsed, threatening to release the German army of the East for duty in France.
On March 5, 1917, Walter Hines Page, American Ambassador to England, sent to President Wilson a long dispatch which Page summarized as follows: "I think that the pressure of this approaching crisis has gone beyond the ability of the Morgan Financial Agency for the British and French Governments. The need is becoming too great and urgent for any private agency to meet, for every such agency has to encounter jealousies of rivals and of sections." Page said that the outlook was "alarming" to America's industrial and financial prospects, but pointed out frankly, "If we should go to war with Germany, the greatest help we could give the Allies would be such a credit. In that case our Government could, if it would, make a large investment in a Franco-British loan or might guarantee such a loan.... Unless we go to war with Germany our Goverment, of course, cannot make such a direct grant of credit ......" The alternative to war, Page warned, was domestic collapse.
Within four weeks President Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war, ostensibly because submarine warfare against shipping had been renewed. Congress, with the exception of a small but gallant band led by Senators LaFollette and Norris, promptly acceded.
Out of the proceeds of the very first Liberty Loan more than $400,000,000 was paid to J. P. Morgan and Company in satisfaction of debts owed it by the British government! During its participation in the war the United States lent to Europe $9,386,311,178, of which Great Britain got $4,136,000,000 and France $2,293,000,000. American participation in the war made it possible for the government to place the credit of the whole American people behind the Allies, whose fortunes were, early in 1917, at such a low ebb that the American holders of nearly $1,500,000,000 of English and French paper stood to suffer a disastrous loss. The declaration of war by the United States, in addition to extricating the wealthiest American families from a dangerous situation, also opened new vistas of profits.
Europe got none of the money lent by the Treasury; it received only materials of war. The owners of American industries got the money. They employed most of it to expand the industrial equipment of the nation and to increase the size of their fortunes and the extent of their power. In short, the war debt created by the American government amounted simply to money transferred from the people of the country to the richest families, who owned the banks and industries. Wartime profits,[FOOTNOTE: See Appendix B: War Profits.] as the Nye Committee showed, were enormous.
And although Europe has since defaulted on its war and postwar debts to the United States, it has, except for Russia, Germany, and Austria, scrupulously paid off every cent owed to the American banks and bankers. Europe could have liquidated its obligation long ago, but only in goods. Any settlement of that nature, however, has been blocked by American bankers and industrialists, working through their tools in Congress and the White House.
Walter Hines Page, trustee of the Rockefeller General Education Board and editor of various Wall Street publications, deserves brief attention at this point. From the moment war broke out in 1914 Page was wholeheartedly committed to the Allied point of view. He did everything he could to have the United States rake England's chestnuts out of the fire. So indefatigable was he that he often appeared to be a British agent and he has been flatly accused by many, notably by H. L. Mencken, editor and critic, of figuring in a treasonable role.
Such a view of Page is shallow, and scarcely does him justice. Page was merely playing Wall Street's game, and Wall Street's game happened to be England's. When Wilson in 1913 broached the idea of the London ambassadorship to Page, the latter held back on the ground that he could not support himself in proper ambassadorial style. Wilson thereupon called on Dodge to make up the needed funds out of his private purse. Dodge agreed to give Page $25,000 a year during his tenure of the London post." Page was, therefore, as wartime ambassador to Great Britain, financed by a big stockholder of the National City Bank who also happened to be one of America's munitions magnates.
The wartime emergency found members of the government de facto swarming into strategic posts in the government de jure. Many of them had long been active, however, in preparing the country for war.
Henry P. Davison who, as a Morgan partner, negotiated the Anglo-French bank loans, in 1915 financed "Aerial Coast Patrol No. 1," a civilian flying unit under the temporary auspices of Yale University. In 1915 General Leonard Wood opened the Business Men's Training Camp at Plattsburg, New York, financed by Bernard M. Baruch, whose initial contribution was $10,000; Baruch spent much time gathering camp funds in Wall Street. The newspapers, of course, gave this project extended attention. With a flourish, Willard Straight, of J. P. Morgan and Company, and Robert Bacon, former Morgan partner, immediately enlisted. Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt gave an ambulance train to the New York National Guard. Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Cabot Lodge, Elihu Root, and other faithful servitors of J. P. Morgan and Company were all demanding a declaration of war long before Wilson felt he had the country with him.
There was every reason, of course, for Wall Street to regard the war as beneficent. By the close of 1916 Stock Exchange prices had risen six hundred per cent over the 1914 average. For stockholders and bankers 191:6 was until then the most prosperous year in American history.
In 1915 E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, for example, through J. P. Morgan and Company, received $100,000,000 of English money to expand the plant capacity of its explosives division; overnight the Du Ponts were lifted from tertiary to primary industrial rank. Crude iron prices, which in 1914 stood at $13 a ton, by 1917 had risen to $42. Whereas unfilled orders of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation at the end of 1913 were Only $24,865,000, at the end of 1914 they stood at $46,513,000 and at the end of 1915 at $175,432,000. Munitions exports in 1914 totaled $40,000,000; in 1915 they were $330,000,000, in 1916, $1,290,000,000. Before America entered the war Wall Street had sold nearly $5,000,000,000 of material to the Allies.
No sooner had the banks shifted the financial risk of their war business to the American people by having the government declare war upon Germany, than the rich families felt it their patriotic duty to take the operation of the government into their own hands; nor did President Wilson oppose them. The government, incidentally, had been secretly preparing for war for six months prior to the actual declaration. According to Franklin D. Roosevelt, then Assistant Secretary of the Navy, the Navy Department began extensive purchasing of war supplies in the Fall of 1916."
By no accident all the strategic government posts, notably those concerned with buying, were reserved for the Wall Street patriots. On the most vital appointments, Wilson consulted with Dodge, who proposed Davison for the head of the American Red Cross. He also recommended the hitherto unknown Baruch, speculator in copper stocks, as chairman of the all-powerful War Industries Board.
Baruch was given his start in the brokerage business by James Keene, a confidential broker for J. P. Morgan and Company; he made his first big money in the Amalgamated Copper manipulation of the National City Bank-Kuhn, Loeb and Company crowd. In 1904 he became a confidential broker for the Guggenheims, and Thomas Fortune Ryan and Henry H. Rogers later became his "business bedfellows."
As head of the War Industries Board, Baruch spent government funds at the rate of $10,000,000,000 annually; aspects of the operations of his department were harshly criticized after the war, and Baruch himself was rebuked, by the Graham Committee of the House of Representatives. Some of the unsavory details of this inquiry's findings are reserved for later exposition.
Baruch packed the War Industries Board and its committees with past and future Wall Street manipulators, industrialists, financiers, and their agents. Some of these were Julius Rosenwald, head of Sears, Roebuck and Company; Daniel Willard, president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad; Walter S. Gifford, then vice-president of American Telephone and Telegraph; Howard E. Coffin, president of the Hudson Motor Car Company; Alexander Legge, of the International Harvester Company; J. Leonard Replogle, steel magnate; Herbert Bayard Swope, brother of General Electric's Gerard Swope; Clarence Dillon, of Dillon, Read and Company; Elbert H. Gary, chairman of United States Steel; James A. Farrell, president of United States Steel and son-in-law of Anthony N. Brady; and John D. Ryan, president of Anaconda Copper (Amalgamated Copper), Assistant Secretary of War, and head of the copper-buying committee.
The buying committees in all the war industries were composed of the heads of those industries, who fixed prices on a cost-plus basis and, as subsequent investigations revealed, saw to it that costs were grossly padded so as to yield hidden profits.
With Ryan as an Assistant Secretary of War sat Edward R. Stettinius, partner of J. P. Morgan, who until the United States declared war supervised American war purchases for the Allies. Russell Leffingwell, Morgan partner-to-be, was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under McAdoo, who appointed Dwight W. Morrow, Morgan. partner, as director of the National War Savings Committee for New Jersey. Although without shipping experience, Morrow was also made a member of the Allied Maritime Transport Council, which allocated tonnage among the Powers. Charles M. Schwab, of Bethlehem Steel, took charge of the Emergency Fleet Corporation. Herbert Hoover, promotion agent for various London mining concerns, was made National Food Controller. Frank A. Vanderlip, president of the National City Bank, was given charge of the War Savings Stamp campaign. Samuel McRoberts, vice-president of the National City Bank, became chief of the procurement section of the ordnance division. Paul D. Cravath, Thomas Fortune Ryan's attorney, was made legal adviser to the American War Mission to Europe.
The laxity of the Washington officials is exemplified nowhere better than in the collected letters of Franklin K. Lane, Secretary of the Interior under Wilson. Lane, when war was declared, wrote: "The President ought to send for [Charles M.] Schwab and hand him a Treasury warrant for a billion dollars and set him to work building ships, with no government inspectors or supervisors or accountants or auditors or other red tape to bother him. Let the President just put it up to Schwab's patriotism and put Schwab on his honor. Nothing more is needed. Schwab will do the job."
This is practically what the President did do in every department of industry. Lane, it is interesting to see, understood that it was auditors and accountants that worried the magnates.
Davison packed the Red Cross with Morgan people. George F. Baker, Jr., of the First National Bank, headed the Preliminary Emergency Commission to Italy. Grayson M.-P. Murphy, vice-president of the Guaranty Trust Company (Morgan), headed the first Red Cross Mission to France, later succeeding Baker in Italy.
Murphy is, perhaps, the most vital minor character in this narrative. Today he is a dominant figure in the Chicago-New York motorbus systems and a director in several Morgan banks as well as the head of his own investment banking house. As an army lieutenant early in the century Murphy, according to Henry Pringle in his biography of Roosevelt, was secretly dispatched by the President to look over the ground in Panama with a view to staging the Panama revolution. So favorably was Murphy impressed with the possibilities that he and a fellow officer considered trying to interest J. P. Morgan and Company in financing the revolution. Late in 1934 Murphy was denounced by Major General Smedley D. Butler as one of the backers of a grandiose scheme, to be financed initially at $50,000,000, in which Butler would lead a militant political movement of World War veterans. After a brief flurry in the press, during which Murphy's scheme was denounced by liberals as fascistic, Butler's grave charge was pushed safely out of public consciousness behind a wall of silence.
With Davison on the Red Cross War Council were Cornelius N. Bliss, Jr., Republican politician; Seward Prosser, now chairman of the executive committee of the Bankers Trust Company (Morgan); John W. Davis, then Solicitor General and now Morgan's chief counsel; John D. Ryan; Harvey D. Gibson, now president of the Manufacturers Trust Company; and Jesse H. Jones, Texas banker and land promoter and now head of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation.
The Russian Mission of the Red Cross was headed by Colonel William Boyce Thompson and Colonel Raymond Robins, Alaska gold prospector. Thompson and Robins in Russia, and Murphy in Italy, used the Red Cross to forward the war aims of Wall Street in a way unsuspected by the American people. The purely political function of the Red Cross is not generally appreciated even today.
Murphy's job in Italy was to bolster shattered morale after the Caporetto disaster. He put the Red Cross to work caring for the homeless and destitute whose mental state was considered dangerously revolutionary. Thompson and Robins, according to their own statements, functioned in Russia as a political arm of the War Department. Their crowning achievement was the purchase of enough delegates to the All-Russian Democratic Congress so that instead of unseating Kerensky, it would support him---and his program of continuing the war. The cost of seducing this congress was $1,000,000, which Thompson cheerfully paid over. Throughout his stay in Russia, Thompson was at all times in cable communication with Lamont and Morrow at Morgan's, and in intervals paved the way for the grant, by the pre-Bolshevik government, of a mining concession to himself and his friends.
The aim of Thompson and the Red Cross was to prevent the Russian people from making a separate peace with Germany. When the Russians nevertheless made peace, Thompson's revised aim was to prevent them from supplying Germany with materials. The Red Cross gave aid in the form of food and money to anti-German elements and withheld it from pro-German and extreme radical elements. Thompson and Robins, under cover of the Red Cross, carried on espionage to locate supplies suspected of being routed to the German border.
Hoover's postwar European relief commission functioned similarly. Food and supplies were withheld from liberal and radical governments and were given to reactionary regimes.
The end of the war found the political financiers still dogging Wilson's unhappy footsteps. At the Peace Conference Baruch was at Wilson's elbow; Lamont, as a Treasury Department representative, was also present "and wrote the financial part for Wilson's League of Nations," according to William Boyce Thompson, "and was more relied upon abroad in financial matters than was Barney Baruch." Lamont, says another authority, "was one of the few among that admirable body of experts to whom President Wilson lent a willing ear. Confidential copies of the Treaty of Versailles were, incidentally, in the hands of J. P. Morgan and Company long before the United States Senate saw the documents.
All the postwar international financial conferences were dominated by J. P. Morgan and Company, which floated most of the choice postwar international loans, including the two Reparations Loans. The World War easily doubled the power of the clans mobilized around this banking house, as well as of those around the Rockefeller and Mellon banks.
From the personal standpoint of America's richest families the World War was the single most constructive event since the Civil War.