U.S. family prominent in banking and finance, politics, and patronage of the arts. Its founder in the U.S. was August Belmont (1816–90), a Prussian-born Jewish banker and diplomat. Belmont entered the Rothschilds' Frankfurt, Ger., banking house at age 14. In 1837 he moved to New York, where he acted as the Rothschilds' agent and laid the foundation for his own banking house, which became one of the largest in the country. He took an active interest in politics. Strongly opposed to slavery, he influenced merchants and financiers in England and France in favour of the Union during the Civil War. He introduced Thoroughbred horse racing into the U.S. (see Belmont Stakes). He married the daughter of Commodore Matthew Perry. His son Perry (1850–1947) became a U.S. Congressman and wrote books on U.S. history and politics. Another son, August Belmont, Jr. (1853–1924), took over the banking house and financed the building of New York's subway, while his wife, Eleanor, supported the Metropolitan Opera.
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