James A. Stillman

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James A. Stillman
President of National City Bank
In office
Preceded by Frank A. Vanderlip
Succeeded by Charles Edwin Mitchell
Personal details
Born James Alexander Stillman
(1873-08-18)August 18, 1873
New York City
Died January 13, 1944(1944-01-13) (aged 70)
New York City
Spouse(s) Anne Urquhart Potter
(m. 1901; div. 1931)
Children 5
Parents James Jewett Stillman
Sarah Elizabeth Rumrill
Relatives Charles Stillman (grandfather)
Education Harvard University (1896)
Occupation Chairman of National City Bank of New York

James Alexander Stillman (August 18, 1873 – January 13, 1944) was a president of National City Bank.[1]


James Alexander Stillman was born on August 18, 1873 in New York City to James Jewett Stillman (1850–1918) and Sarah Elizabeth Rumrill. His paternal grandfather was Charles Stillman (1810–1875), the founder of Brownsville, Texas. He graduated Harvard University in 1896.[1]


In 1918, his father who was chairman of National City Bank of New York died[2] and the younger Stillman engaged in a fight with Frank A. Vanderlip to control the company. Eventually in 1919, Vanderlip quit and Stillman became chairman.[3] His father's estate was estimated at $45,000,000.[2] While he was chairman, he urged temperate speech and urged people not to do or say anything that causes excitement while discussing general conditions of the country.[4]

He served as chairman for three years until personal issues relating to a divorce with his wife caused him to resign.[1] In 1921, Stillman sold 5,000 city lots in Brownsville, Texas that were part of his grandfather's estate, with estimates putting their value upwards of $1,500,000.[5]

Personal life[edit]

In 1901, he married Anne "Fifi" Urquhart Potter at Grace Church in Manhattan. She was the daughter of James Brown Potter.[6] Together they had:[1]

In 1921, he filed for divorce saying that his wife's youngest child was the daughter of a half-blood Indian guide from Quebec.[7] His wife denied the charges and accused him of fathering two illegitimate children with chorus girl Florence H. Leeds.[8] Stillman later acknowledged his son with Leeds in 1926 by agreeing to give $20,000 a year in trust to their son until he was 21.[9] At that point, he was to receive $150,000. The son was:[9]

After five years, the court refused the divorce saying that he had misbehaved. His wife then filed for divorce but withdrew the contest after receiving a $500,000 necklace. They sailed to Europe to receive counseling from Carl Jung.[6] He eventually acknowledged he was the father of Guy[12] and the court case ended up costing him more than $1 million but they reconciled in 1926.[1] Fifi eventually divorced Stillman in 1931 and married Fowler McCormick, a man twenty years younger than her and a friend of their son, Bud.[1]

He died on January 13, 1944, a few days before he planned to visit his winter home in Havana, Cuba.[1] His estate was split between his four children with a bequest going to his friend, Bernard E. Smith, the executor of his estate.[13]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "James A. Stillman, A Banker 45 Years. Former Head of National City Dies. Figure in Sensational Divorce Case of 1920's". New York Times. January 14, 1944. Retrieved 2012-09-16. (subscription required (help)). 
  2. ^ a b "STILLMAN ESTATE LEFT TO FAMILY; Will of Banker Disposes of Property Estimated at About$45,000,000.TRUST FUNDS FOR CHILDREN $3,500,000 Set Aside for EachDaughter and Sons May HaveUse of $7,500,000 Apiece.TAXES MAY BE $13,736,000Wife Was Provided For by Settlement In Excess of Her DowryRight Made a Year Ago. No Bequests to Charity. Sons Made Receive More. Provisions for Grandsons. Full Text of the Will. First. Second. Third. Fourth. Fifth. Sixth. Seventh. Eighth. Ninth. Tenth. STILLMAN ESTATE LEFT TO FAMILY Eleventh. Twelfth. Thirteenth. Fourteenth. Fifteenth. Sixteenth. Seventeenth. Eighteenth. Nineteenth. Twentieth. Appraisal Not Yet Begun.". The New York Times. 24 March 1918. Retrieved 30 November 2016. 
  3. ^ "VANDERLIP QUITS AS CITY BANK HEAD; | Will Devote His Energies to Financial and Industrial Problems. | HE WANTS A LONG REST | Denies Friction with Stillman, Who Succeeds Him as President. | LONG SOUGHT TO RETIRE | Became Interested in Large Land Projects in California and May Make His Home There. First Wants a Good Rest. Retirement Long Contemplated.". The New York Times. 4 June 1919. Retrieved 30 November 2016. 
  4. ^ "SEES PROFIT AHEAD FOR WAGE EARNERS; | James A. Stillman Declares Earnings Will Remain High After Costs Recede. | URGES CALM JUDGMENTS | Believes Conditions will Quickly Return to Normal | Wants Just Treatment for Railroads. | The Railroad Problem. | Seeks Just Investments.". The New York Times. 14 August 1919. Retrieved 30 November 2016. 
  5. ^ Times, Special To The New York (18 June 1921). "STILLMAN FAMILY'S TEXAS LAND TO BE SOLD; Holdings Acquired by James A.'s Grandfather Exceed $1,500,000 Value.". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 November 2016. 
  6. ^ a b "James A. Stillman Asks Divorce. Wife Files Counter Suit. Referee Appointed and Hearings Begun at Poughkeepsie. $10,000 A Month Alimony. Mrs. Stillman, Who Is Daughter of Mrs. James Brown Potter, Asks $25,000 Counsel Fees. Guardian Named For Child. Counsel for Banker Says Net IncomeLast Year Was $220,000. Canadian Witnesses Called". New York Times. March 11, 1921. Retrieved 2012-09-16. (subscription required (help)). 
  7. ^ "WIFE AND BABY GUY TO FACE STILLMAN; Bud and Possibly Fred Beauvais Also to Be in Court Under Present Plans. SON TO IGNORE FATHER Beauty Specialist Tells of Trouble Mrs. Leeds Had Over Her Hair Curls.". The New York Times. 23 June 1921. Retrieved 30 November 2016. 
  8. ^ "BARE NEW CHAPTERS IN STILLMAN CASE; How Wife First Learned of Affairs With Other Women and Was Barred From His Homes.AN APPEAL BY HER FATHER James Brown Potter, in Letter From Paris. Asks Banker as a Gentleman to Drop Suit. Wife Then Employs Detectives. Text of Mr. Potter's Letter. Peggy Hopkins Joyco Mentioned.". The New York Times. 25 June 1921. Retrieved 30 November 2016. 
  9. ^ a b "Stillman Settles With Son by Florence Leeds; $20,000 a Year Till He Is 21, Then $150,000". The New York Times. 23 February 1926. Retrieved 30 November 2016. 
  10. ^ "STILLMAN GIVES FLO LEEDS' SON HANDSOME SUM "OTHER WOMAN" IN SOCIAL SCANDAL FINALLY DISPOSED OF". Healdsburg Tribune (20). 23 February 1926. Retrieved 30 November 2016. 
  11. ^ Stasz, Clarice (June 19, 2000). The Rockefeller Women: Dynasty of Piety, Privacy, and Service. toExcel: New England Publishing Associates Inc. ISBN 9781469740386. Retrieved 30 November 2016. 
  12. ^ "BABY GUY HELD SON OF BANKER | Stillman Loses Suit for Divorce; Fifi's Child to Get Fortune. | FINANCIER IS SCORED | Husband Found Guilty of Parentage of Illegitimate Child.". Sacramento Union (26129). 30 September 1922. Retrieved 30 November 2016. 
  13. ^ "FOUR CHILDREN SHARE J.A. STILLMAN ESTATE; | $300,000 Is Left to a Friend, Bernard E. Smith". The New York Times. 12 February 1944. Retrieved 30 November 2016. 
Business positions
Preceded by
Frank A. Vanderlip
President of Citigroup
Succeeded by
Charles E. Mitchell