John Jacob Astor's Will

Michael Dearing

John Jacob Astor was a keystone personality in American Capitalism. His trading empire linked Asia, Europe, and North America during periods of revolution in commerce and politics. The flow of merchandise, capital, and talent he fueled was astounding. When Astor died in 1848, he left behind the first eight-figure fortune in American history. Let's read his Will and try to understand how American Capitalism's first big fortune was divided. It'll be a peek into Astor's world-view but also a window on the self-image and future expectations of first-generation American wealth. This course is open to Foundations alumni only.