Oliver Belmont

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Oliver Belmont
Oliver Belmont.jpg
Oliver Belmont
Born Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont
November 12, 1858
New York City, New York,
United States
Died June 10, 1908(1908-06-10) (aged 49)
Hempstead, New York,
United States
Resting place Woodlawn Cemetery
Residence Belcourt
Education St. Paul's School
United States Naval Academy
Occupation Businessman, politician
Known for Belcourt
Political party Democrat
Board member of Day and Night Bank
Spouse(s) Sara Swan Whiting
(m. 1882; div. 1882)
Alva Erskine Smith Vanderbilt (m. 1896)
Children Natica Rives Belmont Burden
Parent(s) August Belmont
Caroline Slidell Perry
Relatives Perry Belmont (brother)
August Belmont, Jr. (brother)
Matthew C. Perry (maternal grandfather)

Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont (November 12, 1858 – June 10, 1908) was an American socialite and United States Representative from New York.[1] Belmont was a member of the banking firm of August Belmont and Co., New York City. He became publisher of the Verdict, a weekly paper.


Belmont was born in New York City, New York. Oliver's father was August Belmont, a Hessian Jew who came to the United States in 1837 as an agent for the Rothschilds, and accumulated enormous personal wealth. (The oldest race in the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes, is named for August Belmont). His mother, Caroline Slidell (née Perry), was the daughter of Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry, who was renowned for commanding the naval expedition that opened Japan in 1853-54. His maternal great-uncle and namesake was Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, the victor of the Battle of Lake Erie in 1813.[2]

Belmont attended St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire. He entered the United States Naval Academy on June 10, 1880. He was commissioned as a midshipman and served until June 1, 1881, when he was discharged without graduating.


In 1882, without his parents' consent, Oliver proposed marriage to debutante Sara Swan Whiting, a popular and beautiful socialite. His parents, August and Caroline Belmont, objected to the engagement, thinking Oliver was not mature enough for marriage because of his gambling and playboy lifestyle. As a result, he was sent to Bremen, Germany, to learn the banking trade from the Rothschild family, where his father had been trained. Oliver became dissipated and developed a penchant for absinthe. When Mrs. Belmont realized his decline, she agreed to the marriage. Oliver Belmont married Sara Swan Whiting in Newport, Rhode Island, on December 27, 1882, at her family home "Swanhurst'.

The newlyweds traveled to Paris for their honeymoon, where they were joined several weeks later by Sara's mother and two older sisters. Oliver, having originally agreed to the visit, now objected. He took to frequenting gambling houses and brothels, drinking absinthe to escape the situation. His personality was affected by the absinthe; and he had a violent and abusive argument with his new wife, leaving her terrified. Oliver abandoned her in Paris and was later seen in Bordeaux, traveling with a French dancer. Shamed and heartbroken, Sara and the Whiting family returned to America. In April, Sara realized she was pregnant with Oliver's child; but the two divorced and he was prevented from seeing the child. Natica Caroline Belmont (1883-1908) was born September 5, 1883. Oliver disowned her, claiming that she was not his daughter and not a Belmont heir.

Sara remarried; Natica was adopted by her stepfather, former Assistant Secretary of State George Lockhart Rives and took his last name. Natica became a prominent New York socialite. In 1907, Natica married Williams Proudfoot Burden, brother of James Abercrombie Burden, Jr. Oliver Belmont remarried Alva Vanderbilt, the ex-wife of his good friend William K. Vanderbilt, on January 11, 1896.

Belmont served as delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1900, and was elected as a Democrat from New York's 13th District to the Fifty-seventh Congress (March 4, 1901 – March 3, 1903). He was not a candidate for renomination in 1902.


Oliver Belmont died on June 10, 1908, at his Brookholt estate in East Meadow, New York, from appendicitis.[1] He was interred in the Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx. His mausoleum, designed by Richard Morris Hunt, is an exact replica of the Chapel of St. Hubert at Château d'Amboise in France.


Belmont was a charter member of the Rhode Island Society of the Sons of the Revolution in 1896. He was eligible for membership in the Society by right of his descent from Captain Christopher Raymond Perry who has served as a privateer in the American Revolution.


Main article: Belcourt Castle
Belcourt, Belmont's summer estate in Newport, Rhode Island

Oliver received a huge inheritance when his father died in 1890. Oliver was a bachelor at the time of his father's death and decided to build a summer house in Newport. Richard Morris Hunt was the architect for Oliver's Newport mansion, Belcourt. Belmont designed Belcourt as he pleased. Hunt was hesitant with the design of Belcourt, but he concentrated on his guiding principle that it was his client's money he was spending. The entire first floor was composed of a multitude of stables for Belmont's prized horses. The monumental Gothic rooms with their huge stained-glass windows were emblazoned with the Belmont coat of arms.


  1. ^ a b "O.H.P. Belmont Dead After Brave Fight. He Succumbs to Septic Poisoning, Following an Operation for Appendicitis. To be Held at the Cathedral of the Incarnation, Garden City. Burial at Woodlawn". The New York Times. June 11, 1908. Retrieved 2011-05-27. The death of Oliver H.P. Belmont occurred soon after 6:30 o'clock this morning at Brookholt, his Long Island country seat. ... 
  2. ^ Vanderbilt, 248

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Jefferson Monroe Levy
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 13th congressional district

March 4, 1901 – March 3, 1903
Succeeded by
Francis Burton Harrison