Frank A. Vanderlip

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Frank Arthur Vanderlip, Sr.
Frank A. Vanderlip.jpg
Born (1864-11-13)November 13, 1864
Aurora, Illinois
Died June 30, 1937(1937-06-30) (aged 72)
New York Hospital, Manhattan, New York
Occupation President of the City National Bank of New York
Known for Founding Father of Palos Verdes, California
Spouse(s) Mabel Narcissa Cox (m. 1903–37)
Children Narcissa Vanderlip, Charlotte Vanderlip, Frank Arthur Vanderlip, Jr., Virginia Vanderlip, Kelvin Vanderlip, and John Vanderlip
Parent(s) Charles Edmond Vanderlip
Charlotte Louise Woodworth Vanderlip

Frank Arthur Vanderlip, Sr. (November 17, 1864 – June 30, 1937) was an American banker. He was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury from 1897-1901[1] and was president of the National City Bank from 1909 to 1919.[2] Vanderlip created the Scarborough School at his property, Beechwood in Briarcliff Manor, New York.[3] and founded the 16,000-acre-area (6,500 ha) collectively known as Palos Verdes, California.[1]


Frank A. Vanderlip was born in Aurora, Illinois on November 17, 1864 to Charles Edmond Vanderlip and Charlotte Louise Woodworth Vanderlip. His early life was spent on the family farm in nearby Oswego, Illinois until his father died in 1878. Vanderlip, his mother and his sister then moved into Aurora, where he went to work at the age of 16 at a lathe in a factory.

After one year at the University of Illinois at Champaign and another stint at the factory lathe, Vanderlip became city editor of the Aurora Evening Post in 1885.

Under the guidance of economist Joseph French Johnson, Vanderlip took a position at a financial investigative service for stock investors in Chicago in 1886. Three years later, in 1889, he became a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, and was promoted to financial editor in 1892. While at the Tribune, Mr. Vanderlip took an extend course in political economy at the newly founded University of Chicago.

This brought him to the notice of Lyman J. Gage, who became Secretary of the Treasury under President of the United States William McKinley in 1897. Gage brought Vanderlip with him to Washington as his private secretary. Six weeks later, Gage promoted Vanderlip to be Assistant Secretary of the Treasury. As directed by the War Revenue Act of 1898, Vanderlip was put in charge of sending out the $200 million bond issue to fund the war and procuring the subscriptions, with the special direction to offer the bonds to the smallest subscribers first, so that the public would feel invested in the fight. Vanderlip and his team of 600 to 700 clerks succeeded in selling out the bond issue in just over 30 days, closing out the bond drive on July 14, 1898.

This success brought Vanderlip to the attention of James J. Stillman, president of National City Bank of New York, the country's largest bank. Vanderlip became vice president in 1902, and was president from 1909 until 1919.

On May 19, 1903, Vanderlip married Mabel Narcissa Cox in her home town of Chicago, Illinois. They purchased Beechwood, their home on the Hudson River, in 1905. Narcissa Vanderlip became a leader of the Suffragette Movement and was president of the New York Infirmary for Women and Children for 37 years.

When the stock market and the financial system collapsed in the Panic of 1907, Vanderlip worked closely with other stable bankers, led by J. P. Morgan, to stop the depositors' run on banks that was leading to economic disaster. The experience had a deep effect on the thinking of Vanderlip and others who were involved.

In November 1910, at the invitation of Senator Nelson Aldrich, Vanderlip joined a small group of leading bankers on a train to Jekyll Island, Georgia, which later became known as the Jekyll Island group. The bankers formulated the outline to a plan that laid the groundwork for the drafting of the eventual Federal Reserve Act.[1]

In the final month and a half before the Act's enactment on December 23, 1913, Vanderlip's alternative plan for a Federal Reserve Act nearly derailed the one that President Wilson and the Democratic leadership were promoting.[4][5] Several of Vanderlip's ideas were incorporated into the final Federal Reserve Act.

Always a man of grand visions, Vanderlip purchased several large parcels of property, along with other investors. The Vanderlip-Stillman-Tilghman syndicate bought 15,000 acres (6,100 ha) of land at the mouth of the Brazos River in Texas, in 1912, and founded the city of Freeport. After several smaller land investments, Vanderlip spearheaded a group that bought 16,000 acres (6,500 ha) now known collectively as Palos Verdes, California.

His last major purchase was the hamlet of Sparta, Ossining, a quarter-mile from his Beechwood home. He bought about 70 homes and business buildings in 1920 because he believed it was a run-down place. Tearing down dilapidated homes, turning some to face the river, and even moving at least one across the street, Vanderlip beautified and gentrified Sparta.

During the Teapot Dome Scandal hearings in 1924, Vanderlip testified about what he believed to be a scandal during the administration of President Warren G. Harding. Because he spoke out vigorously in defense of the public's right to know about various issues, Vanderlip was forced to resign from the boards of directors of almost 40 companies. He subsequently led a quieter life at his homes in New York and California.

He died on June 30, 1937 at age 72 in New York Hospital.[2]


Frank Vanderlip was an innovator in the world of banking. Besides being one of the founders of the Federal Reserve System, he led his bank to open the first overseas branches of an American bank, helped devise the war bond savings stamp program used in World Wars I and II, set up the first internship program to bring college students to work and study in the bank.

He brought the first Montessori school to the U.S., and worked to open up friendly business and personal relations with Japan in the 1920s.

Vanderlip known as the "Father of Palos Verdes" purchased the 16,000 acres (6,500 ha) Rancho de los Palos Verdes from Jotham Bixby in 1913. In 1916, he built the Vanderlip estates near the Portuguese Bend area of Palos Verdes, California where some of his descendants still live.[6][7] His daughter-in-law Elin Vanderlip maintained residence at the estate until her death in 2009. The Vanderlips championed many of the landmarks in Rancho Palos Verdes, notably Wayfarer’s Chapel, Marineland of the Pacific, Portuguese Bend Riding Club, Portuguese Bend Beach Club, Nansen Field, Marymount College and Chadwick School.[8] His original purchase is now divided into four cities - Palos Verdes Estates, Rolling Hills Estates, Rolling Hills, and Rancho Palos Verdes.

Selected works[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Mack, Vicki (2013). Frank A. Vanderlip - The Banker Who Changed America. Palos Verdes Estates, California: Pinale Press. ISBN 9781492704904. 
  2. ^ a b "Frank Vanderlip, Banker, Dies At 72. Former Head of National City Had Served as Assistant Secretary of Treasury". New York Times. June 30, 1937. Retrieved 2012-09-16. Frank A. Vanderlip, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, who was president of the National City Bank from 1909 to 1919, died yesterday afternoon in New York Hospital, where he had been a patient for the last two weeks. He was 72 years old. 
  3. ^ Cheever, Mary (1990). The Changing Landscape: A History of Briarcliff Manor-Scarborough. West Kennebunk, Maine: Phoenix Publishing. ISBN 0-914659-49-9. OCLC 22274920. 
  4. ^ [1] New York Times article, November 7, 1913
  5. ^ [2] Historical Beginnings... The Federal Reserve] by Roger T. Johnson, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, 1999, pp. 32-33.
  6. ^
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External links[edit]


Business positions
Preceded by
James Stillman
Chief of National City Bank
1918–1919 (President with acting duties as Chairman)
Succeeded by
James A. Stillman