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 John Jacob Astor, Sr

John Jacob Astor, Sr

Birth
Walldorf, Rhein-Neckar-Kreis, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Death 29 Mar 1848 (aged 84)
Manhattan, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Burial Manhattan, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Memorial ID 40 · View Source
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Businessman, Merchant, Investor. He became the first multi-millionaire and creator of the first trust in the United States as a result of his fur business, the American Fur Company. Born Johann Jakob Astor in what is now known as Waldorf, in the state of Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany, he began working as an assistant in his father's dairy business. In 1779, he emigrated to London, England, where he worked for an older brother, George Astor, who manufactured musical instruments. While there, he learned there was good money to be made buying and selling furs in the United States and in March 1783, he came to New York City where another of his older brothers, Henry Astor, had previously settled and worked for him in his butcher shop. Within three years he established a business buying furs from Native American trappers at the mouth of the Columbia River, and opened his own fur shop in New York City as well as becoming New York's agent for George Astor's musical instrument business. He took advantage of the 1794 Jay Treaty between the United States and England, which opened new fur markets in Canada and the Great Lakes region. He established fur trading posts along the Missouri and Columbia Rivers and by 1795, he had purchased a fleet of 12 ships which he employed to transport his furs to the Far East and Europe, bringing back manufactured goods and tea that he sold in the United States. In 1807, the US Embargo Act disrupted his fur trading business; however, with President Thomas Jefferson's permission, he established the American Fur Company on April 6, 1808. In 1810, he established Fort Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River. His fur trading business was disrupted again during the War of 1812 when the British captured some of his trading posts. In 1816, he became involved in the opium smuggling trade with China but left it after a few years. In 1817, when the US Congress passed a law that prevented foreign traders from US territories, his business rebounded and it became the dominate fur business around the Great Lakes. He established the Astor House on Mackinac Island, Michigan, as the headquarters for his reorganized American Fur Company. In 1834, he sold the American Fur Company and used the money to buy real estate around New York City, taking advantage of its potential growth. After his retirement, he devoted himself as a patron of the arts. He died in New York City, New York. At the time of his death, he was estimated to be worth around $20 million dollars.

Bio by: William Bjornstad



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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 40
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for John Jacob Astor, Sr (17 Jul 1763–29 Mar 1848), Find A Grave Memorial no. 40, citing Trinity Churchyard, Manhattan, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .