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Guggenheim,  Meyer   

Inductee #: 32 • Year Inducted: 1989

Name: Guggenheim,  Meyer   

Born: 1828 • Deceased: 1905

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Inductee Bio


    Meyer Guggenheim, a poor Swiss immigrant, built the most powerful mining and smelting trust the nation has ever seen.

    For a time he practiced the tailor’s trade as he had in Switzerland.  But after making a killing on a stock investment, he purchased two mines located in the Leadville district of Colorado, which was in the midst of a wild silver boom.  He was appalled when he discovered the two mines, the A Y and the Minnie, were flooded.  They, however, became bonanzas and produced handsomely for the Guggenheims.  He then erected a six-stack smelter in Pueblo, and the Philadelphia Smelting & Refining Company went into production in 1889.  They began importing rich Mexican ore and flooding the market with cheap silver.  To halt the flood, industrialists forced the passage of the McKinley Tariff, but the effects of the embargo were not felt for long:  the Guggenheims simply built a pair of smelters in Mexico and began dumping their silver on the world market.  They bought up copper, silver and lead mines, and built a refinery.  They now operated an industrial empire in two countries completely integrated from mine to the finished metal.  In 1899, the greatest threat to their empire was initiated.  The major smelters and mining industrialists combined to form the American Smelting and Refining Company, a trust of international significance. The Guggenheims refused to join and during the following year, managed not only to outproduce the trust, but bought a major interest in it.  Before long, five of Meyer’s sons were elected to the Board of Directors and the Guggenheim Empire and the American Smelting and Refining Trust became one of the most powerful economic enterprises in the world.



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