Boston Brahmin Russell Sturgis
One of the best known merchants of his time. He was partner of Russell & Sturgis, and of Russell, Sturgis & Co.; of Russell & Co., after the consolidation of the two latter firms. He was later partner and, finally, head of Baring Brothers of London.
Eventually Sturgis entered the firm of Russell & Sturgis of Manila and Russell, Sturgis & Co. of Canton, and in 1840 the latter house consolidated with Russell & Co., Mr. Warren Delano being taken in as a member of the firm. Two years later Russell Sturgis became a partner. The East had a great fascination for him, and in fact, for all the men who went out there from Boston.
It was jokingly said in the family that if it had not been for the dilatory expressman Mr. Sturgis would never have become head of the firm of Baring Bros. & Co. He never returned to this country, dying in England in 1887.
Francis Baring was a director of the British East India Company. His sister Elizabeth married John Dunning who was a good friend of Lord Shelburne. Francis’ son Alexander, who married Ann Bingham, the granddaughter of Thomas Willing, formed Sun Alliance Assurance with Nathan Mayer Rothschild in 1824. And the Barings were allegedly involved in running opium and slaves.
Willing appointed Barings the European bankers of The United States.
Biddle and the Second Bank of the United States (BUS2) continued this arrangement.
The Sixth Great Power : Barings, 1762 – 1929, p 213-215
- Barings owned a slave plantation, and directed The British East India Company through Francis, and even The Bank of England through Alexander.
- Alexander Baring negotiated and financed The Louisiana Purchase. At the time Louisiana covered the whole of the middle of what is now the USA.
- Barings financed the annexation of Texas from Mexico, and the purchase of Alaska from Russia.
- Barings financed the purchase by the United States Federal Government, i.e. Lincoln and the north, of Ironclads, which were the new military ships of their day, as well as arms!
- Benjamin Moran, at the American Legation, noted with approval a speech that Baring made in the House of Commons in May 1864: The man is a gentleman…It is mortifying to me that while he is loyal to us, the only citizen of the United States belonging to his firm, Mr Russell Sturgis, is a rebel sympathizer.’ Sturgis was indeed a considerable embarrassment to his colleagues.
For a glimpse into just how cozy the relationship was between Biddle and Barings see “The House of Baring and the Second Bank of the United States, 1826-1836” by R. W. Hidy in The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 68, No. 3 (Jul., 1944), pp. 269-285. Barings could easily have let the USA crash any number of times because Biddle went way over the overdraft the USA had with Barings a few times without agreement, and asked for huge credit when the USA was facing financial trouble. This annoyed Barings but they acquiesced and in the end made a huge profit from doing so.
Directors. (1780-1935). 1812, The Bank of England Governors, Deputy Governors and Directors Ledger, M5/437. Bank of England Archive.