Abstract: Washington and the Networks of W.W. Corcoran

Mark L. Goldstein


Leveraging critical networks throughout his many professional and political endeavors, W.W. Corcoran played a significant role in the transformation of America's financial markets and in the growth of the nation's capital. Corcoran made important contributions to the social, cultural, and physical development of an increasingly sophisticated capital city and was one of the nation's most important philanthropists almost a generation before the wealthy Gilded Age. This paper furthers the notion that networks played an integral part in capital formation and business development—beyond being a bridge between the world of partnerships and Chandlerian hierarchies—and could achieve individual and organizational objectives. It also suggests that network characteristics may well have been more enduring and multifaceted than previously recognized, as the employment of such networks transcended business activities to achieve other mutual goals. Furthermore, the consolidation of a self-conscious and influential American moneyed class appears to have formed earlier than generally acknowledged and seems to have broadly influenced politics, culture, and the urban built environment in places other than New York, including the seat of American government.

BEH On-Line Paper