If you want to know how the statue of Ben Franklin, a double of the one in Philadelphia, came to overlook the Place du Trocadéro, simply walk around behind it and note the message "John Harjes, 1906."
1906 was the year of San Francisco's Great Quake, but also of Philly's Franklin bicentennial when Harjes, a displaced Philadelphian, presented this memorial of the mad scientist of Passy (and beloved diplomat-original to the Royal Court) to his adopted city. Franklin, of course, used to walk this onetime grassy hill overlooking the Seine, fly his kites in the neighborhood and generally inspire good-natured amusement among the villagers who felt sorry for the old man with "broken glasses" (we'd call Franklin's invention "bifocals", today).
But Harjes, who remembers Harjes? You'll find his bust in the entryway of the American Hospital of Paris: one of the founders, it would appear, an upstanding member of the American Colony of Paris at the beginning of the century. You might find that the American Cathedral remembers him in its archives. But if you want to get a knowing smile, walk into 14, place Vendôme , the Morgan Bank. John Harjes was its founder.
A flip of the coin had Mr. Harjes and not his partner, Mr. Drexel, come to Paris to found this branch of the international banking firm known, until the Drexel partnership was bought out by J.P. Morgan, as the Drexel-Harjes. Mr. Harjes did very well, helping the French finance the rapid paying off of their war debt to the Prussians after the débacle of 1870. He also helped the Americans finance their purchase of that French boondoggle: the Panama Canal! All these things were done in the quiet, efficient style of great banking. Meanwhile, as a private citizen, member of a close-knit expatriate community of Right Bank businessmen (with little connection to the wild, loosely-knit crowd of Americans across the river orbiting around the art schools), Harjes did his fair share of good works, among them the Franklin statue and the American Hospital. He passed away quietly in 1913, leaving his son Henry Herman to take over what was now called the Morgan-Harjes.
Henry Herman Harjes
When World War One broke out, countless Americans on the "Grand Tour" found themselves in quite a fix, with little or no money --at least of the kind people would accept, and no one there to change the kind they might have. That they ultimately got home safely was thanks to Herman Harjes' astute thinking. And later, when moved by all the stories of suffering, those same tourists and their friends began sending contributions in cash and kind to the Allied war effort, it was again Herman Harjes who, as President of the American Relief Clearing House, saw that the gifts got to the right place. Meanwhile, Harjes was helping negotiate gigantic loans which would help the Allies obtain supplies in America through the "Morgan Connection." All this was done in the quiet, efficient style of great banking. As private citizens, both Herman Harjes and his wife, Frederica Berwind Harjes, became involved in volunteer war work. Herman, as chief representative of the American Red Cross, organized a volunteer ambulance service; his wife worked for the American Ambulance (war hospital) in Neuilly and later organized a canteen near the war front. When America finally came into the war in 1917, Harjes handed over the work of the American Relief Clearing House to the new, reorganized American Red Cross and went on to become Pershing's chief liaison officer at the French High Command.
When the Great War was over, bankers Morgan and Harjes became the object of some criticism for their lucrative loans to the Allies, but Herman did not live long enough to become notorious or notoire (your choice). In the summer of 1926, he felt victim to the sport he is said to have introduced to France, falling off his polo pony and under that of his neighbor. Surgeons flown in from England were unable to save him.
In 1926, the Harjes boys were too young to take over a bank , so J.P. Morgan went on without them, dropping the Harjes from the banking name. The young Harjes offspring returned to America, and so Paris began to forget this discreet if illustrious immigrant family, except for the stones: the statue, the bust and the family mausoleum in Versailles.
An unidentified article in French, obviously from a book on celebrated Paris addresses, pages 409-414. (My translation)
... During the Second Empire, Mme Barenne, who kept a millinery shop in the building, provided hats to the Empress Eugénie. In 1871, the Say family installed an ambulance [i.e. temporary military hospital] in the salons with their superb woodwork, and the wounded were cared for under ceilings painted by Cabanel, who had done the Tuileries. Constant Say's daughter, Jeanne, married successively Roland de Cossé, the Marquis of Brissac and son of the Duke, and then Christian, Count of Trédern whom she divorced in 1889. She is the grandmother of the present Duke of Brissac who married Marie Schneider.
Constant Say died in 1871 and, August 10, 1872, at a Court Sale of the Seine Prefecture, the mansion was awarded to the Countess of Trédern for the sum of 1,212,300 francs. A great woman, a musician endowed with a fine voice, she ran a quite Parisian salon in the mansion where she presided with both authority and elegance. A wise woman as well, she rescued her share of the refinery which she withdrew before the catastrophe. Her receptions were quite sought after in this Paris of the Belle Epoque, where her mansion was the meeting place of artists, politicians and authors. Pasteur received a not negligeable financial support from her for his research on germs. Up until her death in 1916, her mansion "where so much taste was allied with art" was a favorite gathering place during those crazy years, but nothing is left of it as the time of the functional has replace that of the art of living. On September 15, 1916, the building was sold for five million francs to the Morgan Bank which had been at 35 Boulevard Haussmann and now moved into Place Vendôme where it has been ever since.
The Morgan, a veritable institution in the world of international banking, has first come to Paris in 1868, setting up shop at 3 Rue Scribe under the name Drexel Harjes and Co, and working in close collaboration with the Drexel Morgan and Co. of New York. In the United States, it was the great period of the conquest of the West and the construction of the railroads about which Westerns have left us with images of wild horse rides and extraordinary adventures. The Morgan collected French capital and invested it in American rail. At that time, American railroads enriched their investors. Private fortune in France was quite considerable at that time---it still is---and the bank prospered along with its clients when the defeat of 1870 at Sedan brought all into question and Morgan removed half of its personnel to Switzerland in order to maintain contact with London and New York.
The Government of National Defense, under Gambetta, had set itself up in Tours which the Prussians were surrounded Paris. Desperately, Gambetta sought to borrow money to shore up his authority and take care of the daily needs of a country in full upheaval, but the French defeat made his task practically impossible. London's major banks were all tied to Germany and no one was terribly eager to help the vanquished get back on his feet. Then The Morgan interceded and, through the intermediary of Clément Laurier, the envoy of the Provisional Government, arranged for a loan, and a considerable one given the amount and the circumstances: ten million pounds sterling, or two hundred fifty million francs, in the form of bonds, payable at 6% in 34 years beginning 1873. France was saved, order restored and the Republic strengthened. One cannot but be astonished at the wealth of this country which the Morgan certainly knew well as it had based its confidence, happily so and with elegance, on the French fortune. It had done well: three years after the signature of the peace treaty at Versailles, the loan had been totally paid off by France.
Another anecdote from these times is worth recounting, although it takes us quite far from American generosity as it has to do with the Prussian conditions of the treaty. At the Prussian Embassy in Paris, there was an attaché who, under Napoleon III, had made news headlines and kept tongues wagging: Guido, Count Henckel von Donnersmark was the fastidious lover of the famous Païva for whom he had a superb mansion built along the Champs-Elysées, one which is full of the charm of those times and which today has become the Travelers' Club. The plenipotentiaries had come to Versailles for the signature of the peace treaty and the evening before they were still discussing the war indemnity which they were going to ask France to pay. Bismark was of the opinion that a billion francs gold was already quite a great deal. Donnersmarck, who knew the country's wealth, said that Prussia could ask for five billion. That seemed outrageous and the Delegation asked him to prove his allegations in a detailed note. During the night which preceded the signature, he wrote up a memorandum, based entirely on the statistical part of the Gotha Almanach. Prussia therefore demanded five billion and France paid them off so quickly that the Germans, one hundred years later, still haven't gotten over it! It was a fine vengeance for the little almanach which Napoleon had so abused and had seized so that his family would show up favorably among the reigning houses of Europe.
In 1873, the Morgan Bank, paid off as well, left its offices at Rue Scribe and came to Boulevard Haussmann, where there was more room for the extension of its business and, in 1895, when the New York house took the name J.P. Morgan and Co., the Paris office became Morgan Harjes and Co., the name under which the acquisition of the Place Vendôme property was made and where, in 1917, it installed its Paris headquarters. That same year of WWI, the Guaranty Trust Company opened offices in Paris on behalf of the American Treasury as paymaster for the American Expeditionary Forces. After the Second World War, in 1959, the Morgan merged with the Guaranty Trust and since then carries the name Morgan Guaranty Trust Company, as it appears on the pediment of its mansion, the most beautiful on Place Vendôme, along with that of the Chancellery.
Long ago, One of the leading citizens of Bremen, Mr. Werner H. Koenenkamp of Koenenkamp & Co., was asked to prepare a chapter about Mr. John H. Harjes for a forthcoming book, Famous Citizens of Bremen. He supplied the following information about Mr. Harjes: Born February 2, 1830, in Bremen; came to the United States in 1850. With his older brother, Henry, he started, in 1853, Harjes Brothers, a banking firm in Philadelphia. He did business mostly as an exchange broker. Mr. Drexel's attention was aroused by the hardworking and intelligent young man, and he proposed to him to go to Paris and start there a banking firm in partnership with him.
Mr. John H. Harjes married Miss Amelia Hessenbruch, a German, from the Rhineland, I believe. I do not know when and where. But I do know that Mr. and Mrs. Harjes were very devoted to each other, and their golden wedding was celebrated not only by the family, but also by the bank, in a memorable banquet. Mr. and Mrs. John H. Harjes, Sr. had six children, two of them born in the USA and the others born in France, although they were all American citizens. They were as follows:
Mrs. Louise Moore
Mr. John H. Harjes, Jr.
Mrs. Bertha Waddington
Miss Millie Harjes
Mr. Herman H. Harjes
Mrs. Jacques Cartier (previously Nelly Gardner)
When the firm first known under the name of Drexel, Harjes & Co. opened its doors at No. 3 Rue Scribe, on May 1, 1868, Mr. John H. Harjes was the principal Partner, the other being Mr. Eugene Winthrop. There were about seven or eight employees to begin with. The firm had not been long in existence, when the Franco-Prussian War broke out on July 19, 1870. The firm of Drexel Harjes & Co. were able to render valuable assistance to all Americans and travellers in France.
In September 1870, Mr. John H. Harjes left Paris for Geneva with three members of the staff, in order to maintain contact with the outer world, as Paris was on the eve of being besieged. Mr. Winthrop remained in Paris with the rest of the staff. The office in Paris remained open throughout the siege, but very little business was transacted. The siege was raised on January 28, 1871. However, the Commune was declared in Paris on March 18, and Mr. Harjes once again left Paris for Switzerland with a limited staff, in order to maintain relations with other countries. After the War, Mr. Harjes having returned to Paris and continued to build up the firm's reputation. In 1871, there were still not more than 20 employees.
On the 1st of July, 1871, Mr. J. Pierpont Morgan, Sr. joined Mr. Drexel and the firm became known as Drexel Morgan & Co. At this time Drexel Harjes & Co., in Paris, found their offices too small and in 1873 they moved to 31 Boulevard Haussmann where they were to remain for nearly half a century. The firm progressed in a steady and most satisfactory manner.
Mr. Eugene Winthrop who had been the only Partner of Mr. John H. Harjes since the creation of the firm in 1868, died on the 27th of January, 1893 after a two days' illness whilst on a visit to New York.
On the 1st of January, 183, Mr. John H. Harjes, Jr., who had been a Fonde-de-Pouvoirs since 1890, became a Partner of Drexel Harjes & Co., but retired at the end of the same year. In this same year, 1893, Mr. O.O. Siegel and Mr. H.P. Herold became Partners on the 1st of July. They had both been members of the staff practically since the beginning of the firm, and had rendered it great service by their ability and energy.
At about this time, Mr. John Drexel died, and as a consequence, on the 1st of January 1895 Drexel Morgan & Co. became J.P. Morgan & Co. and Drexel Harjes & Co. in Paris became Morgan Harjes & Co.
Mr. Henry Herman Harjes became a Partner on the 1st of January 1898. Mr. O.O. Siegel retired from the firm and from business on the 31st of December, 1906 after a connection of 35 years with the firm. Mr. Werner Herold (a Swiss), the son of Mr. H.P. Herold, who had already been for some time with the firm, was given the General Procuration on the 1st of January, 1908. He became one of the most active members of the Directorate and was destined to play a very important part in the future expansion of Morgan Harjes & Co. Very soon after its establishment, Drexel, Harjes Co. started to interest investors in France and Switzerland in American securities (for instance, 7% railroad bonds!!) and their propaganda work is responsible for a great part of the help which the American economy thus indirectly received from France.
In 1904, payment had to be made by the US government for the rights of French Panama Canal Company which it had bought. This payment was arranged through J.P. Morgan & Co. and Morgan, Harjes & Co. For these days, the amount was very large and it required the closest attention of those in charge to avoid upsetting the foreign exchange market. However, the gold export point was reached very soon. A few clerks of J.P. Morgan & Co. spent many days across the street, in the backyard of the Treasury, taking delivery and preparing the shipment of gold. One of those clerks remembers how they quickly exhausted the supply of gold bars in the Treasury and had to take instead gold coins, first French and then "eagles."
Perhaps the days of the financial crisis of 1907 might be mentioned, when Morgan, Harjes & Co. were asked to make all their efforts to procure gold from the Bank of France. They met with a refusal, but were able to sell in the Paris market, in a few days, a large amount of notes of the City of New York, proceeds of which were placed at the disposal of the US Treasury, thus enabling the latter to draw on Paris. I do not remember whether these drawings were large enough to depress the quotation of the French franc to the point where gold could be sent to the US, but I suppose that it must have been the case. Mr. John H. Harjes' son Henry Herman Harjes, whose wife had died in New Mexico of tuberculosis, returned to Paris in 1908. Mr. John H. Harjes, being advanced in years, his son, Henry Herman Harjes, took a very active role and in a short time became a very predominant part in the direction of the firm.
At the end of 1908, Mr. John H. Harjes retired from the firm after 63 years of business activity including 40 years as a Partner. When he left Morgan Harjes & Co., he had already reached the venerable age of 76 and in 1914 he died in Grasse, to the great regret of all who knew him.
The active career of Mr. John H. Harjes earned the respect of all and his charming and genial personality endeared him to all those who had the privilege of coming into contact with him.
Mr. John H. Harjes had been during his lifetime, one of the most popular, active and influential members of the permanent colony in Paris and was considered its "doyen" when he died. His influence was not confined to the more or less limited circle of his compatriots but he was esteemed and respected in the French official and banking world, as well as the closed and reserved circles of the French aristocracy of the Faubourg St. Germain. He was very prominent in American activities in France and was the founder and First President of the American Hospital of Paris. He was also responsible for the bronze statue erected in memory of Benjamin Franklin which stands near the Place du Trocadero in Passy.
Before 1919, the office of Morgan Harjes and Co. were at 31 Boulevard Haussmann. The activities of the firm were mainly directed toward handling the accounts of private individuals including investment advisory service and acting as an underwriting and issuing house of securities, chiefly of American companies. The firm also had accounts of American and French industrial companies but these accounts generally were inactive, or reserve accounts, since the firm was not yet organized to engage actively in the commercial banking field.
The firm moved from Boulevard Haussmann to 14 Place Vendôme in 1919. The new quarters provided additional space for personnel so that the firm could increase its commercial banking activities by organizing a Credit and Statistical Department, an Exchange Department and a department for dealing with commercial letters of credit. The firm continued, however, to engage in the underwriting and distribution of French franc securities since the French Treasury would not authorize the issuance of securities of foreign corporations.
From 1920 to 1940, the firm became increasingly active in granting short term credits to French and American companies operating in France and in arranging medium term loans to enable them to expand their activities. During that period, such important companies as the Standard Oil of New Jersey, Socony Mobile, International Harvester, American Radiator, Eastman Kodak, Norton Company or Worcester, International Telephone and Telegraph and many others enlarged their manufacturing activities in France and became loyal clients of the bank.
During that period, the firm also established commercial relations with a good many important French industrial companies such as Renault, Peugeot, SIMCA and Carnaud. The firm also expanded its safekeeping of securities and investment advisory service but after 1933, the firm discontinued its underwriting activities at the time J.P. Morgan & Co. was compelled to do so by the United States banking law.
In August, 1926, Colonel H.H. Harjes, the son of the founder of the firm, John H. Harjes, and senior partner in Morgan Harjes & Co. met with a fatal accident playing polo at Deauville. Since both of his sons were small boys and not prepared for partnership responsibilities, the firm name was changed in the autumn of 1926 to Morgan & Cie. The business continued under that name until 1945 when it was changed to Morgan & Cie Incorporated. A copy of his obituary by the New York Times is attached as a separate paragraph.
During the period from 1920 to 1931, J.P. Morgan & Co. acted as head of several United States banking groups which were formed to provide financial assistance to such European governments as France, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland and Austria. Under the leadership of J.P. Morgan & Co., public issues of dollar bonds of the above countries were made in the USA and in all instances except for Italy, the Paris house acted as agent for the New York bank in on-the-spot negotiations with representatives of the borrowing governments. During that period, several public issues were negotiated on behalf of the Belgian government, five for the French government, two for the Swiss government and two for the Austrian government. The Paris house also represented J.P. Morgan & Co. in arranging a public dollar issue for the Nord Railway Company and for the well-known French firm of Schneider & Cie.
As the Nazi menace developed, it seemed to the partners in the Paris house that war was inevitable and concluded that if war came, Paris might suffer from bombing. With the encouragement of the Bank of France, the firm decided to find a building in the country south of the Loire River to which all of the securities and other valuables which were held in safekeeping for clients could be transferred. After a survey by the late Marcel Morize, a suitable house in Niort, a small city south of the Loire and about half way between Poitiers and La Rochelle was acquired and made ready for occupancy by installing safes in the basement and equipping the second and third floors as dormitories for the staff. This work was begun in the spring of 1938 and completed in the summer of 1939. When war was declared in September 1939, the firm was able to transfer the securities it held in safekeeping and a part of the firm's securities to Niort, together with a staff to deal with them.
As the war clouds gathered, the firm was advised in confidence by the French Treasury and the Bank of France that they were preparing offices at Chatel Guyon to which they expected to transfer their head offices in case Paris became occupied or uninhabitable from bombing. The firm was advised to do likewise and it leased a large house at Chatel Guyon known as Villa Marie-Antoinette which was prepared for occupancy.
On June 10, 1940, two of the partners were summoned to the Bank of France and told that the government and the Bank of France were leaving Paris and all foreign banks were asked to transfer their main office to places south of the Loire and to do so promptly. That night, the bank transferred an important part of its staff to Chatel Guyon as well as cash and treasury bills and records of account of non-resident companies and individuals. Herman Harjes, Jr., son of Colonel Harjes, and a "Sous-Directeur" of the Bank, also transferred, by car, various documents from Paris to Niort, just shortly before the Germans entered Paris; After the Armistice, in late June, he too took a 3 car convoy from Niort to Chatel Guyan in the unoccupied zone, a then returned to Niort in the occupied zone. Not long after he departed Niort and arrived in occupied Paris in early July. The firm decided, however, to remain open in Paris for the convenience of clients who would remain in the Paris area. The partners asked for volunteers from members of the staff to remain at their posts in the Paris office as it was, of course, necessary that certain key people remain if the bank was to continue to function.
Morgan & Cie was the only American, English or Canadian bank that remained open during the occupation of Paris and the bank continued to remain open during the occupation. Since the firm J.P. Morgan & Co. was the principal partner and the resident partners were American except for Monsieur Pesson-Didion who was French, it was decided that no new accounts would be opened at the Paris office and no fresh facilities of any sort granted to anyone and that only the strictest routine banking would be performed, with the idea of shrinking the business as a matter of protection to the partners. During the occupation, this policy was strictly adhered to, and the firm was able to continue to give services of a strictly routine nature to its old clients until the end of hostilities when normal business relations were restored.
The office at Niort continued to function during the occupation for the safekeeping of securities and the collection of interest and dividends for the account of clients. The Niort office proved highly useful and was utilized until the end of hostilities in 1945 when the securities and the personnel were transferred back to the Paris office and the Niort property sold to the Bank of France. The office at Chatel Guyon continued to function during the occupation for the purpose of serving old clients in the unoccupied part of France. Because it was situated in unoccupied France, the Chatel Guyon office was able to communicate from time to time with the United States and with clients in Switzerland and South America with the Paris office was unable to do.
As soon as Paris was liberated in August 1945, the American partners of the Paris house who had been resident in the USA since 1941, began to prepare to return to Paris. B.S. Carter was still in the 3rd US Army serving as a Lieutenant Colonel and Julian Allen who held the firm's power of attorney was serving as a Colonel in the US Air Corps under General Spaatz. Herman Harjes was still with the office of Strategic Services. N.D. Jay and A.V. Arragon returned to Paris in December 1945, also Horton Kennedy who held the power of attorney of the firm. Since the firm of J/P. Morgan &Co., became an incorporated bank in June 1940, it was imperative that the firm of Morgan & Cie be converted into an incorporated bank and this was accomplished in May 1945, Morgan & Cie, Inc., succeeding to the business of Morgan & Cie, including the building, furniture and equipment of the old firm.
The firm of Drexel Harjes & Co. began business on May 1, 1868 at 3 rue Scribe. The partners were Drexel & Co. of Philadelphia, Drexel Winthrop & Co. of New York, John H. Harjes of Philadelphia and Eugene Winthrop of New York.
On July 1, 1871, Mr. J.P. Morgan Sr., joined the New York firm which became Drexel Morgan & Co. of New York.
On January 27, 1893, Mr. Eugene Winthrop died and Mr. John H. Harjes, Jr. became a partner in Drexel Harjes & Co., which firm was now located at 31 bld. Haussmann, Paris.
On January 1, 1895, Drexel Morgan & Co. of New York became J.P. Morgan & Co., and Drexel Harjes & Co. of Paris became Morgan Harjes & Co. On January 1, 1898, Mr. John H. Harjes, Sr. retired from the firm after 40 years as a partner; he had arrived at the age of 76 and he died at Grasse (Alpes Maritimes), France, in 1914.
Mr. Herman H. Harjes was prominent in Franco-American activities in Paris. When the USA entered the war in 1917, he represented the American Red Cross and was later chosen by General Pershing to organize a liaison service between the French Army and the A.E.F. He was commissioned a Major and later promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.
Transcription of Newspaper article from:
the New York City Herald,
dated February 16, 1914.
(SPECIAL DESPATCH TO THE HERALD VIA COMMERCIAL CABLE COMPANY'S SYSTEM.)
NICE, Sunday. -- Mr. John H. Harjes, the Paris banker, died at four o'clock this afternoon at his villa at Grasse, where he had lived almost every winter for several years. He was eighty-five years of age. His wife, who was Miss Amelia Hessenbruch, and his son and daughter were at his bedside.
For more than sixty years Mr. Harjes was a partner in the international banking firm of Morgan, Harjes & Co., of Paris, retiring from active work in the early part of 1909. The firm was associated with the firm of J. P. Morgan & Co., of New York. Mr. Harjes was prominent in charitable circles as well as business, and his many acts won him the grateful acknowledgment of the French government, particularly during the war of 1870-71, when he collected 120,000 francs ($24,000) for distribution among the peasants. He was made an officer of the Legion of Honor in 1902. In 1906 he presented a statue of Benjamin Franklin to the city of Paris.
In the front rank of representative, patriotic and influential citizens in the American colony in Paris, the name of John H. Harjes was admittedly prominent. Though he had more than fulfilled the traditional three score years and ten., he stepped as briskly and looked as hale and hearty as many who can only boast one-half of his years of active business life. He never missed a day at his office until his retirement.
Born in Bremen eighty-five years ago, he came to Baltimore in 1849, whence he removed to Philadelphia, as banker and broker, in 1853. Fifteen years later he accepted the late Anthony J. Drexel's offer to open a Paris branch of Drexel & Co.'s Philadelphia house, in whose interests were joined those of the New York firm, then Drexel, Winthrop & Co., which in 1871 became Drexel, Morgan & Co., on the entry of Mr. J. Pierpont Morgan into the business. The New York house, then, in 1895, assumed its present title of J. P. Morgan & Co. The title of the original Paris house at the same time was changed from Drexel, Harjes & Co. to its present style of Morgan, Harjes & Co. These latter changes were occasioned by the death of Anthony J. Drexel, who had until then survived his brothers, Frank and Joseph.
Though quiet and unostentatious in his private life Mr. Harjes was nevertheless widely felt in charitable work, and he endeared himself to the French as well as to the American colony. He it was, also, who perseveringly worked for the erection of the magnificent equestrian statue of Washington in the Place d'Iena in 1900 -- gift of the women of America to France. The war of 1870-1 brought out some of the remarkable qualities of head and heart of Mr. Harjes. No less than 20,000 francs ($4,000) were collected by him for distribution among the French peasants who were in such dire distress in those terrible days. The French government gratefully acknowledged this practical benefaction by conferring on him for this and other distinguished services, the coveted honors, successively, of Chevalier and, subsequently, Officier of the Legion of Honor.
Several members of his family live in handsome homes built adjacent to the residence of their father, where Mr. Harjes displayed his artistic tastes. Magnificent works of Rembrandt and world famous old and new masters, marvelous ivory statues and carvings, tapestries, ingenious artistic contrivances for lighting the apartments, souvenirs from famous travelers (noticeable among the latter being an immense, cunningly carved ivory tusk sent to him by General Grant, from China) are here to be seen. And, while homage has been paid to Mr. Harjes by foremost men in America, England and France, the Emperor of Germany has not been behindhand, for the American banker was invited to accompany the Emperor and the Crown Prince on their Norwegian cruise in 1902, when the Emperor extended to him many marks of kindness and special attention and also congratulated him on his gift to the city of Bremen in the shape of equestrian statues of knights to decorate the six century old City Hall. Two additional similar statues were sent by Mr. Harjes in 1904 to grace the opposite side of the entrance of the same building.
Mr. Harjes supervised in Paris the transfer of the $50,000,000, which the United States paid to France for the French interest in the Panama Canal, and the financiers of that city were astonished at the ease with which the task was completed.
Mr. J. P. Morgan, head of the banking house that bears his name, last night talked most interestingly of his recollections of Mr. John H. Harjes.
"Mr. Harjes was of a most charming personality," said Mr. Morgan. "Every one who knew him liked him and admired him, especially for the great amount of good work that he did. His death touches me in a very personal way, for I knew him when I was a mere baby.
"If there was anything for which Mr. Harjes was especially admired it was his consistent kindness toward Americans in Paris. He helped Americans there in numberless ways. The one thing for which he is best known in that connection is the aid he gave in the establishment of the American Hospital in Paris. In fact, I would say that the foundation of that institution was largely due to his co-operation.
"Then, too, of course, his charitable efforts were of great benefit to the French. The government of the Republic made him an Officer of the Legion of Honor and he received many other tributes from the French people in recognition of his generosity.
"The last time I saw Mr. Harjes was about a year ago. He was in failing health then on account of the infirmities of old age. But his personality had lost none of its charm. Our meeting at that time was just as delightful as all those of the year s before. My admiration for him has grown ever since I knew him, and, as I said before, I knew him as a baby.
"Mr. Harjes retired from active business four years ago. He was, of course, most prominently known in a business way because of his connection with our firm in Paris, with which he was associated for many years."
"Mr. Harjes was the finest type of the older generation of banking men," said Mr. Thomas W. Lamont a member of J. P. Morgan & Co., last night. "He has not been active in business since I joined the firm, but I knew him as a cultured kindly gentleman, with a very wide circle of friends, both in America and abroad."
John H. Harjes, born in Bremen, raised in Philadelphia, and donator of the Statue of Benjamin Franklin to his adopted home.
newspaper articles of the time:
From the New York Herald of 28 July, 1905 (original in English):
In view of the approaching two-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Benjamin Franklin, Mr. John H. Harjes has offered to the City of Paris a statue of the great statesman and first American Minister to France, to be erected at his cost in the rue Franklin. This offer has now been accepted.
As early as May 23 last Mr. John H. Harjes formulated his offer to M.J. Bouvard, Administrative Director of the Services of Architecture and Promenades of the City of Paris, calling attention to the fact that the month of January next year will mark the two-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Benjamin Franklin, who occupies a foremost position among the world's great men.
He felt convinced that Paris should not hold aloof from the celebration of this anniversary, for Franklin was one of its most glorious guests. He came to Paris in 1776 as the first Minister of the new Republic of the United States to France, and remained in France for nine years.
In 1896 the Société Historique d'Auteuil et de Passy placed a large commemorative plaque on the wall in the rue Singer which forms an angle with the rue Raynouard, at the spot where Franklin dwelt from 1777 to 1785. The City of Paris also has given his name to one of the streets running from the place du Trocadéro to the place at which Franklin's house formerly stood.
Desirous that France should honor the memory of the eminent man by a durable monument, Mr. Harjes offered to erect one as his personal gift in the sixteenth arrondissement. He considered that the small grass-covered plot in the rue Franklin, near the placed du Trocadéro, and just in front of the Trocadéro Palace, offered a most appropriate site for the monument.
The statue offered by Mr. John H. Harjes is to be an exact reproduction of the bronze statue standing at present in front of the Central Post Office in Philadelphia and is to be made in America by Mr. John J. Boyle, of New York.
In view of the fact that the pedestal on which the statue stands in Philadelphia appears too massive, Mr. Harjes proposed that the pedestal should be constructed and the statue effected at his cost in Paris, according to M.J. Bouvard's views and after his plans.
Mr. John H. Harjes, in his letter to M.J. Bouvard, requested him to aid in the furthering of this object by obtaining the site for the monument; and pointed out that there was no time to be lost if the statue was to be ready for unveiling in January.
M. Bouvard, in an interview with M. Harjes, expressed himself as being entirely favorable to the project, but as its accomplishment depended principally upon the decision of the Paris Municipal Council, he said that nothing final on the subject could be expected before the middle of July.
To make assurance doubly sure, Mr. Harjes therefore, on June 6, addressed an appeal to M. Delcassé, then Minister of Foreign Affairs, requesting him to exercise his influence in forwarding the project, for the achievement of which in the short period of time at his disposal, he entertained well-founded fears. He explained how several years had elapsed before he could obtain a favorable answer from the Municipal Council to his request for a site on the avenue d'Iéna for the erection of the statue of General Washington which adorns that thoroughfare since 1900.
This letter, which was written to M. Delcassé on the eve of his resignation, was answered by M. Rouvier, his successor, in an exceedingly friendly spirit. The reply was accompanied by the favorable report of the Prefect of the Seine.
Mr. John H. Harjes has since received from M. Bouvard an official intimation of the unanimous agreement of the Municipal Council to his request. As time was precious Mr. Harjes had anticipated that decision by cabling instructions to Mr. John J. Boyle to begin work at once on the statue, and since then has received the promise of the artist that the statue will be delivered at Havre by December 15 next.
From La Liberté of 14 August 1905
(original in French, my translation):
Upon M. Escudier's proposition, a commission of the Municipal Council has just accept the offer made to the City of Paris by Mr.John H. Harjes of a statue of Benjamin Franklin. This statue is a replica of the one standing today in Philadelphia. It is proposed that the statue be placed at the end of the Rue Franklin, near the Place du Trocadéro, in the section of Passy where the famous American ambassador lived from 1777 to 1785. He lived in a little pavilion at the Valentois mansion of which not a trace remains and which has today been replaced by the chapel of the Institution of the Brothers of Christian Schools, 66 Rue Raynouard. On the walls of that chapel there is already a plaque which recalls Franklin's stay in Passy and the setting up of the first lightning rod which he built in France. It carries this inscription:
Above , the date the commemorative plaque was installed: May 8, 1896.
Franklin arrived in France around the end of the year 1776. He came to reconcile the favor and support of France to the cause of the independence of the United States. When, on July 4, 1776, the Philadelphia congress proclaimed that independence, the American cause seemed greatly in danger. It was necessary to find in old Europe allies for this new struggle which was to be waged and the eyes of the "Insurgents" turned towards France. Franklin maintained relations with well-known writers and philosophers. He was naturally chosen as ambassador.
Her rapidly aroused sympathies in Paris which were extended to his country. The public wanted to know him; he became "in fashion". None of the forms of publicity which brought a man to fame were denied him.
Pictures were spread of him in his office, in the street, wearing his fur-lined hat and leaning on his stick of wild apple-- people never saw him other than in this familiar way. The popular singers spread his glory.
He wrote to his daughter: "Your father's face is as well known as that of the moon, so well that he dares do nothing which would make him run away, since his "facies" would betray him wherever he dared show it."
This notoriety brought him the worst troubles. A crowd of inventors descended upon him, giving him not a moment's rest. The strangest projects were sent to him. In his Memoirs, Franklin says that in one morning he was visited by: the inventor of a machine to cut tobacco; a certain Mr. Coder who proposed to send 600 men to England to set fire to cities and towns; an abbot who wanted him absolutely to read a huge manuscript containing a project to reform all churches and States, touching upon religion, commerce, laws, etc. All these people came bearing letters signed by important people.
What surprised him most was the facility with which warm letters of recommendation were given in France to all sorts of people. He pointed his finger at this shortcoming in a light-hearted way by drawing up a form letter entitled "Model for a letter of recommendation for someone one does not know."
During his stay in France, he witness the first attempts at air travel by Pilâtre des Roziers and the Marquis of Arlande, on October 21, 1783. He showed great enthusiasm. When someone near him said "Of what use are balloons?", he commented "And of what use is a newborn babe?"
Three days a week, Franklin went to Auteuil where he met with Condorcet, Dupaty, Chamfort, Mirabeau, Mably --the most famous of France's writers and scientists. He called the place of these meetings the Academy of Belles Lettres of Auteuil. He was particularly happy there. When he returned to America, he mentioned it in all his letters to his French friends.
He loved our country passionately. From America, he wrote to La Rochefoucaud: "I love France and a I have a thousand reasons for loving it. Its happiness moves me as does that of my own mother."
Soon Franklin will have his statue in that neighborhood of Passy which he pass through almost every day, stopping to chat with its inhabitants who adored him and where, according to his own testimony, he passed the happiest years of his life.
From Les Échos de Paris of April 22, 1906
(original in French, my translation):
(Article by Sergines)
This week marks the inauguration, near the Place du Trocadéro, of a statue of Benjamin Franklin given to the City of Paris by an American banker, Mr. John H. Harjes.
This statue, entirely made of bronze, is a copy of the one located in front of the Philadelphia Post Office. It is eight feet tall and rests on a bronze pedestal; it weighs seven thousand pounds and cost ten thousand dollars.
This brings to mind moreover, given this occasion, the most interesting memories of the Paris sojourn of the illustrious person who was the first ambassador from the United States to France --and to which I'll add a few anecdotes of my own.
From l'Éclair of April 27, 1906
(original in French, my translation):
The inauguration ceremony for the Franklin Monument given by Mr. John H. Harjes to the City of Paris will take place this afternoon at 2 PM at the Trocadéro Palace. All the members of the American Colony will be present to render homage to the memory of the famous philosopher, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, the negotiator of the treaty of alliance with France and first ambassador in Paris from the American Republic.
A work of the sculptor John J. Beyle, this statue is a reproduction of the one erected in Philadelphia, opposite the Post Office; bas-reliefs by M. Frédéric Bron decorate the pedestal where these words by Mirabeau have been engraved: "The genius who crossed the Atlantic and poured torrents of light on Europe. The sage which both worlds claim."
The organization committee invited many of the leading lights of Paris society in the hopes that this ceremony be transformed into a veritable Franco-American demonstration, coinciding with the funeral ceremonies of John Paul Jones in the United States.
Let us recall that speeches are to be made by M. Barthou, the Minister of Public Works, by M. MacCormick, American Ambassador in Paris; Mr. Smyth, President Roosevelt's special envoy.
The granddaughters of the donator, at the end of the ceremony, will be the ones to cause the veil to fall covering the monument erected on the grassy area at the entrance to the Rue Franklin.
[Translator's Note: The remains of John Paul Jones had recently been found in Paris and were transferred back to the United States].