BUSINESS
10/25/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

What Would JP Morgan Do? Remembering The Panic Of 1907

But I am thinking of a financial crisis 101 years ago, the "Panic of 1907," as it was called.

In late October of that year, the greatest banker of his day, and perhaps any day, JP Morgan, 70 years old but at the height of his power, returned early from a meeting of Episcopalians in Virginia to gather titans of Wall Street together in the red room of his famous library. He was suffering from a bad cold, but got through the following days and nights on heavy doses of Havana cigars.

All around him markets were crumbling, venerable companies were going into receivership, banks were about to go under as crowds of people lined up to get their money out before the entire edifice collapsed.

President Theodore Roosevelt's secretary of the treasury, George Cortelyou, went up to New York by train, but he was to play a minor role to Morgan's.

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Read about Warren Buffett's more subdued leadership in the current Wall Street crisis