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In 1886, the great Victorian author Robert Louis Stevenson published his famous novel entitled The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. In the same year, the wealthiest families in America founded The Jekyll Island Club and built its magnificent clubhouse on Jekyll Island, Georgia. These two events were utterly unrelated to each other.
Jekyll Island was so named long before Stevenson’s birth by General James Oglethorpe, the founder of the colony of Georgia, in honor of an associate of his who was a judge in 18th century London. To learn more about General Oglethorpe, please see my article on Savannah elsewhere on this website. The club ended its existence as such during World War Two, although the clubhouse survives and is now a hotel. However, in its early years, the club membership included Joseph Pulitzer, J P Morgan, the Rockefellers, the Vanderbilts and many of the other prestigious families of America’s gilded age, who built vacation cottages nearby.
Pat and I visited Jekyll Island in August 2013, the centennial of a conspiracy for which the American people are about to pay a terrible price. I refer to the creation of the Federal Reserve Bank in 1913 and the imminent destruction of the US dollar consequent upon a century of “money printing”. The concept of creating a privately owned central bank, with unlimited power to increase the supply of dollars as it saw fit, would have attracted opposition nationwide. Indeed, it was something that the Founding Fathers had warned against over a century earlier. Therefore it was necessary for the conspirators to proceed with the utmost secrecy. A few leading financiers and Treasury Department officials gathered in New York City, unobserved by the press. They left New York in a private railroad car, departing from a distant platform, after which the sealed train traveled nearly a thousand miles south to a point on the Atlantic coast opposite Jekyll Island. Under cover of darkness, the conspirators completed their journey to The Jekyll Island Club by boat. Secrecy was such that mention of the last names of the visitors was forbidden, so that the club servants did not know enough to disclose their identities.
In attendance at the meeting were Senator Nelson Aldrich; Paul Warburg, a German financier; Frank Vanderlip, president of National City Bank; Henry P. Davison, a J.P. Morgan partner; Benjamin Strong, vice president of Banker’s Trust Co.; and A. Piatt Andrew, former secretary of the National Monetary Commission and then assistant secretary of the Treasury. The party set to work and, within a week or two, had devised the system of Federal Reserve banking which is presently destroying the nation.
The Federal Reserve was created on December 23, 1913, when President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act into law. The purchasing power of a 1913 dollar differed very little from the purchasing power of a dollar created in the late 18th century when the United States was founded. Yet a 2013 dollar has the purchasing power of a 1913 nickel. Such are the joys of “quantitative easing”! It cost $1 to enter Jekyll Island in 1985. Today it cost us $6. Such is the pace of an inflation, which even constant manipulation of US government statistics is failing to conceal. As the old Chinese proverb goes “May you live in interesting times”.
Its role as the birthplace of the coming financial holocaust cannot detract from the natural beauty of the island and the skill with which the historic district has been restored. There are untouched beaches, salt marshes, oak tree canopies, and protected sea turtles, whose nesting season is from May to October. Visitors are asked not to disturb these majestic creatures during that time, when only red “turtle-friendly” lights should be used on the beach at night.
In addition to diverse wild life, Jekyll Island is a paradise for bird enthusiasts. Birds commonly found here include American Oystercatchers, Starlings, Herons, Snowy Egrets, Western Sandpipers, Wilsons Plovers and White Ibis, not to mention seagulls and bald eagles. The island is host to a tennis center, a soccer complex, a beach music festival and fine golf courses.
As we passed the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, I was impressed by its immaculate croquet lawn. The city closest to the island is Brunswick, which claims to be the shrimp capital of the world and which was named after the city in that part of Germany once home to the Georges who sat on the British throne. Coincidentally another George, heir to that throne, was born last month (July 23, 2013).
St Simon’s Island is the next island to Jekyll and it contains Fort Frederica, built by Oglethorpe in 1736 to help protect his new colony of Georgia from the Spanish. One usually thinks of America’s frontiers as being “out west”, but these islands once sat on the frontier between British Georgia and Spanish Florida, which was the scene of many skirmishes between these two European powers. The fort was named in honor of Frederick Louis, Prince of Wales, who died before he was able to inherit the throne from his father, King George II. He did however manage to father the child who eventually reigned as George III and who managed to lose his American colonies.
How sad it is therefore that, with so much history to enjoy and with all the pleasures available on this beautiful island, rich financiers should instead have used their time here in 1913 to destroy the US dollar. Did they take comfort from the fact that this currency collapse was unlikely to occur while they were alive?