The Rothschilds already possessed a significant fortune before the start of Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815), and the family had gained preeminence in the bullion trade by this time. From London in 1813 to 1815, Nathan Mayer Rothschild was instrumental in almost single-handedly financing the British war effort, organizing the shipment of bullion to the Duke of Wellington‘s armies across Europe, as well as arranging the payment of British financial subsidies to their continental allies. In 1815 alone, the Rothschild’s provided £9.8 million (in 1815 currency, about £566 million today when using the retail price index, and £6.58 billion when using average earnings) in subsidy loans to Britain’s continental allies.
One of the smaller city houses, Vienna. A collection of far larger Viennese palaces known as Palais Rothschild were torn down during the Second World War.
The brothers helped coordinate Rothschild activities across the continent, and the family developed a network of agents, shippers, and couriers to transport gold across war-torn Europe. The family network was also to provide Nathan Rothschild time and again with political and financial information ahead of his peers, giving him an advantage in the markets and rendering the house of Rothschild still more invaluable to the British government.
In one instance, the family network enabled Nathan to receive in London the news of Wellington’s victory at the Battle of Waterloo a full day ahead of the government’s official messengers. Rothschild’s first concern on this occasion was to the potential financial advantage on the market which the knowledge would have given him; he and his courier did not immediately take the news to the government. It was then repeated in later popular accounts, such as that of Morton. The basis for the Rothschild’s most famously profitable move was made after the news of British victory had been made public. Nathan Rothschild calculated that the future reduction in government borrowing brought about by the peace would create a bounce in British government bonds after a two year stabilisation, which would finalise the post-war restructuring of the domestic economy. In what has been described as one of the most audacious moves in financial history, Nathan immediately bought up the government bond market, for what at the time seemed an excessively high price, before waiting two years, then selling the bonds on the crest of short bounce in the market in 1817 for a 40% profit. Given the sheer power of leverage the Rothschild family had at their disposal, this profit was an enormous sum.(wiki)
But here’s how some of the other patriotic industrialists and speculators chiselled their way into war profits.
Take the shoe people.
They made huge profits on sales abroad to our allies.
Perhaps, like the munitions manufacturers and armament makers, they also sold to the enemy.
But they did well by Uncle Sam too. For instance, they sold Uncle Sam 35,000,000 pairs of hobnailed service shoes.
There were 4,000,000 soldiers.
Eight pairs, and more, to a soldier.
My regiment during the war had only one pair to a soldier.
But when the war was over Uncle Sam has a matter of 25,000,000 pairs left over.
Bought — and paid for. Profits recorded and pocketed.
There was still lots of leather left.
So the leather people sold your Uncle Sam hundreds of thousands of McClellan saddles for the cavalry.
But there wasn’t any American cavalry overseas!
Somebody had to get rid of this leather, however.
Somebody had to make a profit in it — so we had a lot of McClellan saddles.
And we probably have those yet.
Somebody had a lot of mosquito netting.
They sold your Uncle Sam 20,000,000 mosquito nets for the use of the soldiers overseas.
Well, not one of these mosquito nets ever got to France!
Anyhow, these thoughtful manufacturers wanted to make sure that no soldier would be without his mosquito net, so 40,000,000 additional yards of mosquito netting were sold to Uncle Sam.
Airplane and engine manufacturers felt they, too, should get their just profits out of this war.
So $1,000,000,000 — count them if you live long enough — was spent by Uncle Sam in building airplane engines that never left the ground!
Not one plane, or motor, out of the billion dollars worth ordered, ever got into a battle in France.
Just the same the manufacturers made their little profit of 30, 100, or perhaps 300 per cent.
Undershirts for soldiers cost 14¢ [cents] to make and uncle Sam paid 30¢ to 40¢ each for them .
Why, when the war was over some 4,000,000 sets of equipment — knapsacks and the things that go to fill them — crammed warehouses on this side.
Now they are being scrapped because the regulations have changed the contents.
But the manufacturers collected their wartime profits on them — and they will do it all over again the next time.
There were lots of brilliant ideas for profit making during the war.
One very versatile patriot sold Uncle Sam twelve dozen 48-inch wrenches.
Oh, they were very nice wrenches.
The only trouble was that there was only one nut ever made that was large enough for these wrenches.
That is the one that holds the turbines at Niagara Falls.
Well, after Uncle Sam had bought them and the manufacturer had pocketed the profit, the wrenches were put on freight cars and shunted all around the United States in an effort to find a use for them.
When the Armistice was signed it was indeed a sad blow to the wrench manufacturer.
He was just about to make some nuts to fit the wrenches.
Then he planned to sell these, too, to your Uncle Sam.
Still another had the brilliant idea that colonels shouldn’t ride in automobiles, nor should they even ride on horseback.
Well, some 6,000 buckboards were sold to Uncle Sam for the use of colonels!
Not one of them was used. But the buckboard manufacturer got his war profit.
The shipbuilders felt they should come in on some of it, too. T
They built a lot of ships that made a lot of profit. More than $3,000,000,000 worth.
Some of the ships were all right. But $635,000,000 worth of them were made of wood and wouldn’t float!
The seams opened up — and they sank. We paid for them, though. And somebody pocketed the profits.
It has been estimated by statisticians and economists and researchers that the war cost your Uncle Sam $52,000,000,000.
Of this sum, $39,000,000,000 was expended in the actual war itself.
This expenditure yielded $16,000,000,000 in profits.
That is how the 21,000 billionaires and millionaires got that way.
This $16,000,000,000 profits is not to be sneezed at. It is quite a tidy sum.
And it went to a very few.