In recent times, many news have appeared in the media regarding how different people that worked hard during their lives to make a fortune, and finally made it, are thinking about not leaving that fortune to their children. The general point seems to be that these persons prefer to leave their fortune to charity or simply spend it during their lifetime rather than let their children believe that they will be able to rely on it to plan their future.
Bill Gates is perhaps the most famous example of cases like this, which have become to be known as “skiing”, that is, Spending the Kids Inheritance. This multibillionaire has repeatedly claimed that he will not leave his fortune to his children, not because he does not care for them, but rather because he believes that it is in the best interest of his children that they do their best to develop their own lives not depending on his wealth. But Bill Gates is not the only example. Warren Buffet is another multibillionaire that has made claims in the same direction. He has insisted on the idea that he wants to give 99% of his fortune to charity when he dies. And pop-star Sting, former frontman of rock band Police, has openly told his children that they will not receive much of his money after he dies. The reason? Apparently, he has a lot of financial commitments, and for that reason, he has been spending all his money in the last years.
But this tendency to spend the kids inheritance has not always been the rule. Nineteenth century financial titans such as J. P. Morgan, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller or Henry Ford liked to keep their fortune with them as long as it was possible for them, and then let their children enjoy it in the best way that they could imagine. Many of them would certainly give some of their fortune to charity, foundations or universities, but would never have thought about giving it all. And some of their children understood how important those actions were for their parents, and continued supporting the kind of philanthropic work that they started. A good example of this way of seeing things was Anne Tracy Morgan, who inherited a fortune, but found the way to spend it wisely.
Anne Tracy Morgan was born in Manhattan, New York, on July 25, 1873, and died in Mount Kisco, New York, on January 29, 1952. She was the third kid of American financier and banker John Pierpont “J. P.” Morgan (April 17, 1837 – March 31, 1913). She is mainly recognized as a philanthropist thanks to her participation in World War I and World War II, where she provided relief efforts in aid to France during and after both wars. In fact, she was the first American woman to be appointed as a commander of the French Legion of Honor in 1932.
Before her involvement in the two World Wars, Anne Morgan participated in different social activities. She helped to organize the Colony Club in 1903 in New York City. The Colony Club was the first women’s social club in the city. After 1910, she became a union activist, and in 1912, she started the Society for the Prevention of Useless Gift Giving with English actress Eleanor Robson Belmont. She was also instrumental in the funding of Cole Porter’s “See America First”, his first Broadway musical.
Anne Morgan decided to move to France in 1917 and stayed there until 1921. She had her residence near the French front during World War I, close both to Soissons and to the “Chemin des Dames” at Blérancourt. At that moment, she started running The American Friends of France, an organization that performed different activities during the war. For example, it gave assistance to non combats, helped to found a health service that still operates in Soissons, opened a workshop whose main purpose was to provide basic furniture to families that had lost theirs in bombings, organized a holiday camp for children, designed a mobile library, and many other similar activities. The American Friends of France became very big at some point, with hundreds of people in service at a time, which included volunteers from abroad as well as locally recruited people. It was financially supported in part out of Anne Morgan’s own resources, but also in part through an important network of people in the United States.
She went back to France in 1939, during World War II, in order to help the evacuees of Soissons. And due to her friendship with many socialites and celebrities at that time, she was able to compile the cookbook titled “Spécialités de la Maison”, which was published in 1940, and included recipes by artists and personalities such as Cole Porter, Pearl S. Buck, Salvador Dalí, Katherine Hepburn, among others. The intention of this cookbook was to serve as a way to find resources to support The American Friends of France.