29-TAKEOVER IN THE CITY

Prior to sending Bonaparte to Egypt in 1799, Mayer, who now controlled the English monetary system, had wanted to end the Quasi-War by destroying the very royalist and redundant French Navy. Because the Goldsmid Bros., who represented Mayer’s interests in the City, didn’t have the drive and energy to get the job done, Mayer decided to send Nathan, his very capable 21 year-old son, to England and take charge of things. If Bonaparte was to be instrumental in stopping the Quasi-War, it had to be done without his knowledge, and since he was a dangerous megalomaniac, he had to be handled with care. Under his father’s direction, Nathan had told Ouvrard, to do whatever was necessary to get Talleyrand and Barras to send young Bonaparte on his Egyptian campaign, and we know the results of that campaign.

The Quasi-War had to do with the signing of Jay’s Treaty in 1793, a trade agreement that Mayer and Benjamin had deemed indispensable to the growth of the American economy. America and France had signed a Treaty of Alliance in 1778, and Jay’s Treaty was technically superseding that agreement. The French and many Americans had been incensed. It had been seen as a treacherous act by both the US Congress and the Directorate in France. Naturally, the French revolutionaries insisted on the return of the 500 tons of French gold given to America in 1778. However, Congress didn’t have any way of doing that, for as far as it was concerned, the gold was all spent.

In trying to avoid retaliation by the French, Mayer had asked Morris to get Congress to send an American delegation to Paris to negotiate a repayment scheme involving the purchase of Louisiana. Mayer was proposing a plan on how to broker a deal between America and France. If America bought Louisiana from France, the latter would receive a huge sum of money in compensation, and the Quasi-War would stop. But first, France had to reclaim the port of New Orleans that they had ceded to the Spanish when they left America after the Treaty of Paris, in 1763. Barras was to get Talleyrand to have the Spanish sign a treaty. He was to promise the Spanish that the half of San Domingo that belonged to them and was presently occupied by France would be returned to them in exchange for New Orleans. Once this was done, he would get the Americans to buy the whole of Louisiana from the French, and it would more than compensate for France’s generosity in 1778.

However, when the American delegation consisting of three diplomats arrived in Paris. They were treated very poorly by the Marquis of Talleyrand who had the gall to request personal compensation in order to intervene on their behalf. The American diplomats were so shocked by this turn of events that they returned immediately to America to report to Congress. Both parties in Congress spoke with one voice in condemning the French response to their genuine peace overture. Meanwhile, the French Navy started seizing and sinking American merchant ships in the Caribbean, while the fledgling US Navy retaliated as best it could. That’s where things stood in late 1797, and from Mayer’s point of view, the Quasi-War had to be stopped before it escalated.

Mayer didn’t want the English Navy getting involved in the Quasi-War. He controlled the American monetary system, that of England through the Goldsmid Bros., and indirectly that of France, and he didn’t want the three countries who were now under his financial control to be fighting each other. France was definitely not an enemy, but its very powerful royalist navy was a real nuisance, for it was hampering trade in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. America, England and France were unofficially trading partners, and one navy was all that was needed, the English Navy. If the Quasi-War was to be nipped in the bud, the French Royalist Navy had to be destroyed.

In France, Mayer had directed Ouvrard to finance both Barras and Talleyrand, his main advisor. Mayer was happy with the Barras-Talleyrand team, for such individuals were easily bought and disposed of. But it was time to start thinking about having a strong man to replace them. Bonaparte would take over from Barras, and his son Nathan, the pugnacious one, would take over from the Goldsmid Bros. in the City.

In order to ensure his anonymity, when Nathan first arrived in England, he set himself up as a textile merchant from Frankfurt. By 1810, he was the wealthiest banker in the City, and he was setting the price of gold for the whole world on a daily basis. Maybe the expression ‘rags to riches’ was inspired by Nathan’s apparent exploit. In fact, Mayer had wanted to make sure Nathan didn’t have any official ties with him or the First Bank of the United States. When Nathan opened his bank in the City, using his own name, all possible ties to his father, the First Bank of the United States, and the French real estate scam disappeared. Nobody would ever know where all that power, wealth and gold came from. Anonymity was the key to success.

Other than wanting to do a good job and making his father proud, Nathan had another pressing personal matter. He had been introduced to two families in London, and though it had been Moses Elias Montefiore’s family that had taken him in, Nathan had closer ties to the Levy-Barent Cohen family from when he was 18. In 1795, on a trip to America with his father and brothers, they had stopped over in London, and that’s when Nathan had met Hannah Cohen who was 12 at the time. When he arrived in London in 1798, he was quite anxious to see the girl he had dreamt about during all those years.

He lost no time in founding a family. In 1806 he married Hannah Cohen, in 1808 Lionel was born, and in 1809 he moved to St. Swithin’s Lane in New Court, where he proceeded to set up the official home of his banking dynasty. But first, Nathan had to take over from the Goldsmid Bros.

He was helped by destiny in that Benjamin Goldsmid committed suicide in 1808 just prior to Nathan’s moving to Swithin’s Lane. It was said that Benjamin had been depressed for some time. When his 19-year old son converted to Anglicanism, it had shaken him up, and when his wife and daughters followed suite, it appeared to do him in. At that time, he had expressed the thought that he was saddened to be the last Jew in his family, and that no doubt had led him to be further depressed, enough to take his life. One morning, he was found in his bedroom dangling at the end of his bathrobe chord.

Abraham was troubled by his brother’s suicide, and doubly so because he was now alone in facing his firm’s business obligations. He had bought £14,000,000 of Government Consols, and in order to do so he had contracted a sizeable loan with the East India Company in Amsterdam. In 1810, for reasons unknown to the public, the East India Company called in Abraham’s loan. That of course forced him to sell the Consols at a loss, thus making him suffer a huge loss that resulted in the insolvency of the firm. Abraham honorably used the whole of his personal assets to pay back what he owed, and that left him penniless. He committed suicide in 1810. A handgun was found near his body lying in a wooded area not far from his home.

Nathan was a very able and energetic young man. The French Navy was given a serious blow at Aboukir in 1799, and was completely wiped out at Trafalgar in 1805. He ended the Quasi-War by arranging the Louisiana Purchase and making funds available to the US Congress regarding the actual purchase. The proceeds of that sale were given to Bonaparte who immediately crowned himself Emperor Napoleon. Napoleon then turned France into an orderly centralist state before taking off and defeating the Holy Roman Empire at the Battle of Austerlitz. By 1810, Napoleon had served his purpose, and it was time to get rid of him. But Nathan thought he could use him one last time by sending him to Russia in order to force the Tsar to open the country to gold mining companies. There would always be time to get rid of Napoleon.

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