FREDERICK T. GATES Biography - Religious Figures & Icons


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Name: Frederick Taylor Gates                                                         
Born: 1853                                                                           
Died: 1929                                                                           
Frederick Taylor Gates (1853 - 1929) was an American Baptist clergyman, educator,     
and the principal business and philanthropic advisor to the major oil                 
industrialist and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller (Senior), from 1891 to 1923.     
The son of a Baptist minister, he was born at Maine, Broome County, New York,         
graduated from the University of Rochester in 1877, and from the Rochester           
Theological Seminary in 1880. From 1880 to 1888 he served as pastor of the           
Central Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota.                                     
He left the ministry and was appointed the secretary of the newly formed             
American Baptist Education Society, where he championed a Baptist university in       
Chicago to fill a void that existed in Baptist education. On January 21, 1889 he     
met the lifetime Baptist Rockefeller Senior. He proved to be central to the           
suggestion and subsequent design of the funding plans for the creation by Senior     
of the the Baptist University of Chicago; he subsequently served for many years       
as a trustee on its board.                                                           
Gates then became Rockefeller's key philanthropic and business adviser, working       
in the newly established family office in Standard Oil headquarters at 26             
Broadway, where he oversaw Rockefeller's investments in a series of investments       
in many companies, but not in his personal stock in the Standard Oil Trust.           
From 1892 onwards, faced with his ever expanding investments and real estate         
holdings, Senior crucially recognized the need for professional advice and so he     
formed a four-member committee, later including his son, John D. Rockefeller, Jr.,   
to manage his money, and nominated Gates as its head and as his senior business       
adviser. In this capacity Gates steered Rockefeller money predominantly to           
syndicates arranged by the investment house of Kuhn, Loeb & Co., and, to a           
lesser extent, the house of J. P. Morgan.                                             
Gates served on the boards of many companies in which Rockefeller had a majority     
shareholding; Rockefeller at that time held a securities portfolio of                 
unprecedented size for a private individual. Although Gates is recognized today       
as a philanthropic advisor, in fact Rockefeller himself regarded him as the           
greatest businessman he had encountered in his life, skipping such prominent         
figures of the time as Henry Ford and Andrew Carnegie.                               
When he ceased being a business advisor to Rockefeller in 1912, he continued to       
advise him and his son, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., on philanthropic matters, at       
the same time serving on many corporate boards. He also served as president of       
the General Education Board, which was subsequently merged into other                 
Rockefeller family institutions.                                                     
Gates also designed the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research (now               
Rockefeller University), established in 1901, of which he was board president.       
He, along with Rockefeller and his son, was also crucial in the design of the         
prominent and influential Rockefeller Foundation, becoming a trustee upon its         
creation in 1913.                                                                     
Gates' intimacy with John D. Rockefeller and his role in advancing the               
Rockefeller interests and philosophy was described by Gerard Colby and Charlotte     
Dennett in their book "Thy Will Be Done The Conquest of the Amazon: Nelson           
Rockefeller and Evangelism in the Age of Oil". Some question whether Robert M.       
Gates, currently serving as George W. Bush's Secretary of Defense, is a               
descendant of Frederick T. Gates.