Pell Center

The Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina is a multidisciplinary research center focused at the intersection of politics, policies and ideas.

Daniel Schulman on the German-Jewish Immigrants who Built the United States’ Modern Financial Systems

Air Dates: April 1-7, 2024 

We take for granted that the “immigrant experience” is part of the American story. But in an epic new history Daniel Schulman tells the story of the Jewish immigrants who built some of America’s biggest financial institutions and transformed America. 

A best-selling author, Schulman is known for his first book, “Sons of Wichita,” a biography of the Koch brothers, which was a finalist for the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award. His second book, “The Money Kings,” was recently released and details several German-Jewish immigrants who influenced the rise of modern finance in the United States, including Goldman Sachs, Kuhn Loeb, Lehman Brothers and J. & W. Seligman & Co. Beyond his books, Schulman is a journalist whose work has appeared in publications including the Boston Globe Magazine, Politico, Vanity Fair, the Washington Post and Mother Jones, where he is the magazine’s deputy Washington, D.C. bureau chief.  

On this episode of “Story in the Public Square,” Schulman discusses The Money Kings and how the historical figures detailed in its pages have impacted modern America. He notes the significance of not so famous names, especially Jacob Schiff who “was as important if not more important than J.P. Morgan. Not just in terms of the evolution of finance in the United States but in terms of his philanthropy which was really focused on the Jewish population. The fact that there’s a thriving Jewish population in the United States today really traces back to Schiff and his allies.” Schulman also dives into antisemitism in America today, saying his book focusses on historical immigrants, and how “these antisemitic ideas and how they came to be.” Finally, Schulman notes the lasting impact of the characters his book focusses on, adding that financial systems like the Federal Reserve and our progressive tax system “exist today because of these people.” 

“Story in the Public Square” broadcasts each week on public television stations across the United States. A full listing of the national television distribution is available at this link. In Rhode Island and southeastern New England, the show is broadcast on Rhode Island PBS on Sundays at 11:00 a.m. and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. An audio version of the program airs Saturdays at 8:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. ET, Sundays at 5:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. and Mondays at 2:30 a.m. ET on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), channel 124. “Story in the Public Square” is a project of the Pell Center at Salve Regina University. The initiative aims to study, celebrate and tell stories that matter.