Entries in Trading

America in Global Context: German Entrepreneurs around the World
The United States was undoubtedly the most important, but by no means the only country of destination for German immigrant entrepreneurs. German industrialists, merchants, and other entrepreneurs could be found in virtually all world regions where international trade or local markets promised satisfactory returns. They were globally dispersed manifestations – and motors – of Germany’s expanding economy between unification in 1871 and the First World War. Continue Reading »
Astor, John Jacob
Over the course of John Jacob Astor's career, he applied his great entrepreneurial talent to build the first modern American trade empire with partners in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Continue Reading »
Brune, Frederick W.
Frederick W. Brune was one of the most prominent merchants in Baltimore's history. Brune immigrated to Baltimore from Bremen in 1799 and worked as a partner in the merchant house of Von Kapff & Brune, which was later renamed F.W. Brune & Sons. Continue Reading »
Hackfeld, Heinrich
Heinrich (Henry) Hackfeld was born in Almsloh, a village in the parish of Ganderkesee, in the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg. He eventually became part of the Bremish mercantile elite, but was atypical in that he came from a humble background. His firm, H. Hackfeld & Co. of Honolulu, was one of a number of German mercantile businesses founded in Melanesia and Polynesia during the nineteenth century. Initially the main focus of the firm’s business was both indirect and direct involvement in the North Pacific whaling industry. After the demise of this industry, at the beginning of the 1870s, the firm shifted its focus to another part of its business, the provision of factoring services to the Hawaiian sugar industry. By the time of the incorporation of Hawaii as a United States Territory in 1900 the firm was one of a small group of sugar factors that dominated the islands’ economy. Continue Reading »
Heckscher, Charles August
Charles August Heckscher hailed from an influential, well-to-do, and sophisticated Jewish family of merchant-bankers in Altona and the nearby, independent city-state of Hamburg. In 1829 he emigrated from Hamburg to the United States to become a successful merchant and entrepreneur. He acquired wealth by opening a trading house in New York City and later used his personal capital to invest in anthracite coal mining and transportation operations in eastern Pennsylvania. By the time of his death shortly after the end of the Civil War, he was one of the leading colliery operators in the nation. Continue Reading »
Jesselson, Ludwig
In the decades after 1945, Philipp Brothers grew to become the largest and most important metal trading company in the world. By the late 1970s, the company had become an international giant, dealing in over one hundred and fifty different industrial raw materials with representatives in virtually every country in the world possessing metals or minerals of commercial quality. During most of this period, Ludwig Jesselson, who had come to New York in 1937 to work for Philipp Brothers, was at the helm of the company. Jesselson led the company from a sizable private company to an international giant, in the process contributing to changing the markets for international commodities. Continue Reading »
Nolte, Vincent
After coming to New Orleans as a result of the Hope-Baring Operation during the Napoleonic Wars, Vincent Nolte went on to become one of the largest cotton dealers in the city after the war ended. In the great financial crisis of 1825, his business failed for the first time, and in the next great financial crisis of 1837-1839, he went bankrupt a second time. Likewise, his effort to begin anew in Europe also failed. In his final years he turned to writing, leaving behind several economic texts, as well as an autobiography. Continue Reading »
Parish, David
Born into a rich Scottish merchant family based in Hamburg and in the neighboring formerly-Danish village of Nienstedten, David Parish was a merchant, financier, and entrepreneur who acquired riches, fame, and professional success in Europe and the United States between 1802 and 1823. Parish embodied the possibilities of his era: He used his personal abilities and social networks to become one of the most influential players in the international financial community; he was honored by his peers as well as by politicians like Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand, Friedrich von Gentz, and President James Madison. His downfall, however, resulted from a mixture of hubris, miscalculations, and general problems connected with the banking crisis of 1826. Continue Reading »
Trade, Family, and Religion: Forging Networks in the German Atlantic World
Network analysis offers a means for unpacking the relationships between Atlantic World inhabitants and the political-economic, social, and cultural linkages that developed during the colonial period and the era of revolutions/independence in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. This essay will examine networks that helped to structure the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century German Atlantic World. It will focus primarily on transport, capital, and communication networks, but will also address some of the ways in which ethnicity, marriage, and other social and cultural forces influenced the growth and development of these linkages. In particular, it will focus on German-American actors’ roles in shaping the topology of networks through their twin status as immigrants and entrepreneurs. Continue Reading »