John Jakob Raskob (1879-1950)

By Richard Sanders, Editor, Press for Conversion!

Raskob helped form the American Liberty League and gave it at least $20,000. He also $5,000 to one of its fascist front groups, the Southern Committee to Uphold the Constitution.

Raskob’s rise through the ranks of the du Pont weapons/chemical industry began in 1900, when Pierre du Pont hired him as a bookkeeper for some steel and railway businesses. Raskob was Pierre’s private secretary, then his assistant (1902); assistant treasurer (1911) and treasurer on the Executive Committee (1914).

By 1915, du Pont was beginning to absorb GM. With 3,000 shares, Pierre was GM’s largest minority stockholder. He became GM’s chair and put Raskob on the board. They wanted all GM cars to use paint, varnish, lacquer and artificial leather from du Pont. In 1918, Raskob was GM’s vice president and chaired its Finance Committee. The next year, Pierre put family friends onto GM’s board: Nobel, their European gunpowder ally and J.P. Morgan. By 1920, with financial trickery and $35 million from Morgan, du Pont’s empire owned GM.

In the 1920s, Raskob worked with William Stayton, Pierre and Irénée du Pont, and other millionaires to build the Association Against the Prohibition Amendment (AAPA). One of their allies, Al Smith, was the Democrat’s presidential candidate in 1928. Raskob took over Smith’s campaign and moved him to the far right. That year, Raskob became the Democratic Party’s national chair and coerced the party to endorse Repeal. Although Raskob gave $110,000 to Smith’s election, and Pierre gave $50,000, Wall Street’s elite mostly favoured J.P.Morgan’s Republican, Herbert Hoover, a mining millionaire. For his campaign in Florida, Hoover received $25,000 from Alfred du Pont, a KKK-allied racist who called Blacks, “coons.” When Hoover won Florida, Alfred said “I’ve just licked Pierre and Raskob and I’m reeking with gore.”

In 1927, Raskob cofounded the U.S. association of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, a secretive Catholic order, based in Rome, with supposed origins in medieval crusaders who ruled Malta and Rhodes. Considered by some a sovereign state, it has diplomatic relations with 49 countries, its own passports and stamps. U.S. members included John Farrell (U.S. Steel), Joseph Kennedy (JFK’s father), New York’s Cardinal Francis Spellman, and CIA directors William Casey, William Colby and John McCone.

By 1928, Raskob, the so-called “Wizard of Wall Street,” informed the largely du Pont-controlled press that GM’s value would skyrocket. This falsely boosted the stock by almost $50 million, to $3.3 billion, the highest yet reached by any U.S. industrial stock. A few weeks later, its fall caused a panic, the bull market collapsed and Raskob, resigned as du Pont treasurer.

During the Roaring Twenties, insider trading was not yet illegal. Some brokerages, including J.P. Morgan and Kuhn Loeb, sold shares to “preferred” clients, at below current prices. This swindle took money from small investors and made the rich richer. Raskob was on J.P. Morgan’s “preferred list.” In 1929, he used this system to unfairly profit on Standard Brands and United Corp. stocks.

On the “preferred lists” were:

"fellow bankers, prominent industrialists, powerful city politicians, national Committeemen of the Republican and Democratic Parties, and rulers of foreign countries. [They] were notified of the coming crash, and sold all but...gilt-edged stocks, General Motors, Dupont, etc….
All the big bankers rode through the depression ‘with flying colors.’ The people who suffered were workers and farmers who in get-rich stocks, after Pres. Calvin Coolidge, and Treasury Secretary, Andrew Mellon, persuaded them to." (Golden Isles, July 24, 2003).

Raskob also persuaded ordinary Americans to trust Wall Street. Just before the 1929 Crash, the New York Times quoted him: “Prudent investors are now buying stocks in huge quantities and will profit handsomely when this hysteria is over.” That year, his famous article “Everybody Ought to be Rich” (Ladies Home Journal), said investments of $15 a month, would yield $80,000 in 20 years. Meanwhile, his millionaire friends were busily selling stocks to get out before the Crash.
Raskob promoted the 40-hour, five-day work week. In “What Next in America” (North American Review, Nov. 1929), he justified this policy not from “sentimentality” for workers, but as a “good business” move:

"to give workers additional time…to function as consumers of what they produce. We have got production geared up to such speed… that we are faced with...[the] problem of getting the goods...consumed. Every manufacturer, every capitalist concerned with financing industry, knows this…. If…we add a full Saturday holiday…there will be an immediate and tremendous increase in …consumption of automobiles, tires, gasoline, oil and roads."

Raskob’s plan succeeded. Workers did spend more, thus funneling their savings back to the industrialists. And, not a moment to soon; the Crash and Depression soon stopped their spending.

Raskob and Pierre Du Pont also cheated on their taxes. Their scam was to buy, sell and then buy back millions in stocks from each other.
Leaving the post of Democratic national chairman in 1932, Raskob then helped form the American Liberty League and gave it at least $20,000. He also $5,000 to its fascist Southern Committee to Uphold the Constitution.

Creating the Raskob Foundation for Catholic Activities in 1945 (now boasting assets of $150 million), he retired from du Pont two years later.


John J. Raskob

L. Wolfe, FDR vs. the Banks, The American Almanac, July 11, 1994

Gerard Colby, Du Pont Dynasty, 1984 p. 191

The Great Depression

"Knights of Darkness, Covert Action Information Bulletin, Winter 1986

Penny Lernoux, National Catholic Reporter, May 5, 1989

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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