June 29 – Happy Birthday George McNeir

2McNeirBorn on June 29, 1860, George McNeir must have been something at ten years of age. That’s how old this Washington DC native was when he first went to work as a Congressional page in the US Capitol. Six years later, this kid was made postmaster of the House and Senate! Do you think he knew a thing or two about schmoozing?

For the next five years he took evening law classes at Georgetown University, graduating in 1881. Meanwhile, he had started dating Meda Burrows, the daughter of a US Senator from Minnesota named (I kid you not) Julius Caeser Burrows. McNeir married Miss Burrows right after he graduated from Georgetown and I’ll give you one guess where this young opportunist went to practice law. Yep, in Minneapolis, smack in the middle of Daddy-in-Law’s home state, where doing business with the Senator’s son-in-law was most likely considered a politically correct and expedient thing to do.

One of his clients was a New York City Carpet and Furniture store named W. & J. Sloane. After McNeir did a good job handling a lawsuit for them, they offered him a job as credit manager. He accepted and moved to the Big Apple in 1894, where he was introduced to the world of finance. He became a founder and vice president of the Bank of the Metropolis, which later merged with the Bank of Manhattan. He was also made a trustee of the Bowery Savings Bank.

Meanwhile, he had been promoted to Vice President of the Sloane Company. So when the Shuttleworth brothers of Amsterdam were looking for some New York City financing to help put together their merger with McCleary, Wallin and Crouse to form Mohawk Carpet Mills, they hired McNeir to do the deal. After all, he knew carpet, he knew law and he knew banking.

In 1922, he retired as VP of W & J Sloane to become Chairman of the Board at Mohawk…

You can read the rest of my story about George McNeir in my new book “A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam Birthdays.” To order your copy, click here.

One thought on “June 29 – Happy Birthday George McNeir

  1. Reading McNeir’s attack on FDR in the Recorder makes me wonder what today’s angry rhetoric against Obama by his political opposites will sound like ten, twenty or fifty years from now.


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