John Jacob Astor III
|John Jacob Astor III|
June 10, 1822|
New York City
|Died||February 22, 1890
Manhattan, New York
|Resting place||Trinity Church Cemetery|
|Spouse(s)||Charlotte Augusta Gibbs|
|Children||William Waldorf Astor|
|Parents||William Backhouse Astor, Sr.
Margaret Rebecca Armstrong
|Relatives||John Jacob Astor, grandfather
John Armstrong, Jr., grandfather
William Backhouse Astor, Jr., brother
Henry Astor, brother
John Jacob Astor IV, nephew
Waldorf Astor, grandson
John Jacob Astor V, grandson
John Jacob Astor III (June 10, 1822 — February 22, 1890) was a financier and the eldest son of William Backhouse Astor, Sr. (son of John Jacob Astor and Sarah Todd) and Margaret Rebecca Armstrong (daughter of John Armstrong, Jr. and Alida Livingston). One of his uncles was John Jacob Astor, Jr.. John Jacob III became the wealthiest member of the Astor family in his generation and the founder of the English branch of the Astor family.
Astor studied at Columbia College and the University of Göttingen, following which he went to Harvard Law School. He practiced law for a year, to qualify for assisting in the management of his family's immense estate, one half of which later descended to him. It was based on his paternal grandfather's achieving a monopoly in the lucrative fur trade in the early nineteenth century.
During the American Civil War, Astor he served as a volunteer aide-de-camp to General George B. McClellan. For his services during the Peninsular Campaign, he was brevetted brigadier general of U.S. Volunteers. He regarded this period as the best of his life; he attended the reunions of the Loyal Legion with zeal.
As a businessman, Astor dabbled in railroad investment, but was outsmarted by Cornelius Vanderbilt and forced to yield control of the original New York Central Railroad line (from Albany to Buffalo) to him. His principal business interest was the vast Astor Estate real estate holdings in New York City, which he managed profitably and parsimoniously.
Marriage and family 
In 1846, Astor married Charlotte Augusta Gibbs (February 27, 1825 - December 12, 1887) of South Carolina. They had one son, William Waldorf Astor. In 1859 he built a home at 350 Fifth Avenue, today the street address of the Empire State Building. Later, he had an imposing vacation home, Beaulieu, built in Newport, Rhode Island.
John Jacob Astor III was a philanthropist, continuing donation of objects and funds to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (in 1887 he presented it with his wife's collection of valuable laces and left a bequest of $50,000). He and his brother presented Trinity Church with a memorial to their father: a sculptured reredos and altar costing $80,000. He left a bequest of $450,000 to the Astor Library, bringing the family benefactions to the institution to a total of about $1,500,000. He also gave generously to the New York Cancer Hospital ($100,000 bequest), the Woman's Hospital, St. Luke's Hospital ($100,000 bequest) and the Children's Aid Society.
He took an active interest in the Astor Library beyond funding. He was treasurer of its board of trustees, and in 1879 deeded to it the three lots on which the northern wing of the present building was later constructed by him. He presented it with his collection of early books and rare manuscripts.
Charlotte, deeply religious, supported the newly formed Children's Aid Society and sat on the board of the Women's Hospital of New York, an institution that to her dismay refused to accept cancer patients. She persuaded her husband to donate the money ($225,000) to erect the New York Cancer Hospital's first wing, the "Astor Pavilion." For twenty years, she supported a German industrial school. From 1872 until her death, she was a manager of the Woman's Hospital, besides taking an active part in the Niobrara League to aid the Indians and in many other charities. She bequeathed $150,000 to charitable organizations.
John Jacob III increasingly visited London in his later years. His son, moved there permanently with his family in 1891 and became a citizen in 1899 and was made a peer. John Jacob Astor III died on February 22, 1890 and was interred in the Trinity Church Cemetery in Manhattan.
- Some sources such as Time magazine list him as John Jacob Astor II, and discount the birth of his uncle John Jacob Astor, Jr. (1791-1869), who was unstable.
- "Milestones". Time (magazine). July 31, 1939. Retrieved 2008-08-01. "To celebrate the fourth birthday of Millionheir* William Astor, his parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Jacob Astor III, invited his playmates to a party on the lawn of Chetwode, pillared Astor mansion at Newport. *When John Jacob Astor IV went down on the Titanic, most of his fortune went to 20-year-old Son Vincent, only a few million to Son John Jacob VI, then unborn. Since Vincent has no direct heirs, William is heir apparent to both fortunes."
- "John Jacob Astor III". New York Times. August 24, 1890. Retrieved 2008-08-01. "John Jacob Astor, the second of the name, was born in New-York June 10, 1822. His parents were William B. Astor, son of the founder of the family, and Margaret Rebecca, daughter and granddaughter of the Armstrongs of Revolutionary honor."
- "Astor, John Jacob, American capitalist and soldier". Encyclopedia Americana. 1920.
- Wilson, James Grant; Fiske, John, eds. (1900). "Astor, John Jacob, capitalist". Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton.
- "Viscount Astor Died Suddenly of Heart Disease. Stricken Saturday Morning, After Having Passed Part of Preceding Day Outdoors. Body Will Be Cremated and the Ashes Placed in Private Chapel at Cliveden. Peerage Came as Reward for War Gifts. Realty Holdings Here Valued at $60,000,000. Little Known to British Public. Estate Will Pay a Heavy Tax. His Pursuit of Title Evoked Bitter Criticism. Became a British Subject in 1899. Peerage Followed War Gifts.". New York Times. October 20, 1919. Retrieved 2008-08-01. "Viscount Astor died yesterday morning. His death, which was from heart disease, was unexpected."
- "John Jacob Astor Dead. Heart Disease Carries Him Off Suddenly. The End Of A Placid And Useful Life Full Of Good Deeds. William Waldorf Astor His Only Heir.". New York Times. February 23, 1890. Retrieved 2008-06-22.