33-NATHAN IN THE CITY

When he arrived in England in 1798, other than wanting to do a good job and making his father proud, Nathan had a pressing personal matter. In 1795, on a trip to America with his father and brothers, they had stopped over in London, and he had been introduced to two families. Though Moses Elias Montefiore’s family was the one meant to welcome him when he moved to England, Nathan developed closer ties to the Levy-Barent Cohen family, for ever since 1795 when Nathan met Hannah Cohen, who was 12 at the time, that adorable little girl had been constantly on his mind.

Nathan started off by going undercover to Manchester. He had left the Judengasse ghetto as a penniless young man in 1798, and in the space of 8 years, he supposedly became the wealthiest man in the world. After achieving this feat dealing in the cloth business, he went to London. Other than wanting to see Hannah Cohen in London, being the man that he was, he must have been also champing at the bit to take over from the Goldsmids in the City. In 1806, he married Hannah Cohen, in 1808 Lionel was born, and in 1809 he moved to St. Swithin’s Lane in New Court. In 1810, after replacing the Goldsmid Brothers, he proceeded to create a bank in his own name, N M Rothschild & Sons, and overnight, he was recognized as the most powerful banker in the City, and hence, the world.

However, in taking over from the Goldsmid Bros., he had been helped by destiny. 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 by the thought of being the last Jew in his family, and no doubt, that 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. The brothers had bought £14,000,000 of Government Consoles, and in order to do so they had contracted a sizeable loan with the East India Company in Amsterdam. In 1810, for reasons unknown, the East India Company called in Abraham’s loan. That of course forced him to sell the Consoles at below market, thus making him suffer a huge loss that resulted in the insolvency of the firm. Abraham, a respected and honorable business man, 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.

In that same year, at age 33, Nathan opened his bank in the City. Miraculously, he was instantly recognized as the most powerful banker in the City. He probably had taken possession of his father’s gold in the Goldsmids coffers, almost half the gold ever produced in the world, some 5 thousand tons. Consequently, his bank immediately started fixing the daily price of gold for the whole world, and continues to do so to this day. If Nathan opened the bank in his own name it was because Mayer wanted to make sure Nathan’s bank didn’t have any official ties with himself. In doing so, all possible ties to a father who lived in a ghetto, to his bank, the First Bank of the United States, and to the gold accumulated during the French real estate scam, vanished. Nobody would ever know where all that power and gold enjoyed by Nathan came from. Anonymity was the key to success.

1810 was also a time to decide Napoleon’s fate. That year, Napoleon was tidying up his personal life. He had wanted a male heir, and since Josephine couldn’t give him one, he divorced her very solemnly and publicly. He married Marie-Louise of Austria later that year, and his son, the King of Rome, was born in 1811. Nathan thought that Napoleon had served his purpose. After shoring up Barras who put an end to the Terror, after serving as a catalyst for the demise of the French Navy, after politically transforming France into the centralist state that it is to this day, and after dismantling the Holy Roman Empire on both sides of the Rhine, Emperor Napoleon and his Imperial Army were no longer needed. However, there was one more thing Napoleon could do before he was given the coup de grace, he could go to Russia and force the Tsar to let private companies mine for gold in the Urals.

 

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