Frank N. Belgrano, Jr. (1895-1959)

By Richard Sanders, Editor, Press for Conversion!

Although the American Legion was created and controlled by bankers and financiers, Belgrano, as vice-president of United Bank & Trust Co. (UBT), was the first banker to serve as its president in 1934.

Late that year, General Butler was making speeches calling for constitutional amendments to stop the “war racket”: (1) Declarations of war should voted on by those eligible to fight, and (2) U.S. warships should not venture more than 200 miles from the coast and warplanes no more than 500 miles. On behalf of the bankers and financiers controlling the Legion, Belgrano criticised these kinds of “radical tendencies.” Jules Archer, in The Plot to Overthrow the Whitehouse (1973) quotes a Belgrano speech:

"We are facing a new and more dangerous foe today. It has seeped quietly into our country and whispered into the ears of our workers and our people everywhere that our ideals of government are out of date. We of the Legion are mobilized to meet that enemy and we are calling upon loyal Americans everywhere to join us in ridding our country of this menace."
Amadeo Peter Giannini

After WWI, Belgrano worked in his father’s bank. When it merged with Amadeo Peter Giannini’s Bank of America, Belgrano became its vice president, staying in that post until 1940. Belgrano worked so closely with Giannini, that it is instructive to look at this Italian-American banking hero.

Giannini’s banking empire rivalled that of Rockefeller and Morgan. Giannini, a friend and admirer of Mussolini, handled some of the dictator’s business accounts, though Morgan was his main foreign banker, supplying a $100 million loan in 1926. Giannini was the prime funder of one America’s biggest Italian newspapers, L’Italia. It promoted the idea that America would do well to adopt the new fascist model of government.

Giannini created New York City’s East National Bank (1919) and a parent company, Transamerica Corp., for his Bank of America in New York (1928). Its CEO was Elisha Walker, a partner of the Kuhn, Loeb Co., whose top banker was Otto Kahn. In 1924, a year into Mussolini’s rule, Kahn spoke to Toronto’s Empire Club:

Otto Kahn"To anyone who knew Italy...18 months ago, with its constant strikes, class animosities, political confusion and social tremors, the change... is almost unbelievable…. Credit belongs to a great man, beloved and revered in his own country... much misunderstood abroad, a self-made man…, setting out with nothing but the genius of his brain, the force of his character and the ardour of patriotism, Benito Mussolini.... a natural born and genuinely great leader, a tremendous and most impressive personality."

In 1928, Elisha Walker was also a director of the American International Corp. Created in 1915 by J.P. Morgan, the Rockefellers and National City Bank, its directors included Pierre du Pont, Otto Kahn, George Herbert Walker (great grandfather of President George W. Bush), William Woodward (director, Federal Reserve Bank, NY) and Percy Rockefeller.

In 1930, after the Crash, Giannini skipped off to Italy to be near his friend Mussolini. For this temporary “retirement,” Giannini withdrew $2.4 million from his Bank of Italy. It became Bank of America, which by 1949 was the nation’s wealthiest bank.

John Spivak says Belgrano had close ties with media tycoon, William R. Hearst. Belgrano later served as vice president of Occidental Life Insurance of California, and president of Pacific National Fire Insurance (1940-1943); Oakland’s Central Bank (1943-1947); and First National Bank (1947).

Giannini died in 1953 and Belgrano took over TransAmerica. A year later, he took 22 banks from Giannini’s empire and set up First Western Bank. A 1956 law forced him to create a new bank-holding company, Firstamerica Corp., while Transamerica focused on insurance and real estate interests.


New York Times, November 12, 1959

Synopsis of Felice A. Bonadio's, A.P. Giannini : Banker of America (1994)

J.K. Galbraith, A Life in Our Time

Michael Parenti, Blackshirts and Reds (1997)

1919 A.P. Giannini of SF formed the East National Bank in NYC.
(SFC, 4/14/98, p.B1)

(SFC, 4/14/98, p.B4)(SC, 3/1/02)

(SFC, 4/14/98, p.B1)

Eustace Mullins, The World Order: Our Secret Rulers

Kahn, Otto H. "An International Survey," Empire Club of Canada, Toronto, Apr 1924

Some Examples Of Pyramiding Of Profits

Spivak, New Masses, Feb.5, 1935.

Source: Press for Conversion! magazine, Issue # 53, "Facing the Corporate Roots of American Fascism," March 2004. Published by the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade.

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