Jonathan Ogden Armour was a U.S. meat packer, bank and railroad director, acknowledged one of the most daring and spectacular grain speculators on the Chicago Board of Trade, and a major innovator in the meat-packing business.
Jonathan was born on Nov. 11, 1863 in Milwaukee, Wis., to Philip Danforth and Malvina Belle (Ogden) Armour.
At the request of his father, founder of the packing firm bearing his name, Jonathan left Yale University in 1884 at the end of his junior year to enter the family business.
He devoted himself to mastering every phase of the industry until 1901, when he assumed complete control following the deaths of his older brother, Philip, and his father. Under his direction the company increased its annual sales from $200 million in 1900 to one billion dollars in 1920, and extended its increasingly efficient operations throughout the United States and into Latin America, Canada, and Australia. In this period Armour and Company became one of the leading grain dealers and leather and fertilizer producers of the world.
During the period 1900-1923 Jonathan became one of the largest speculators in the grain and provision markets, a role in which he always took great pride. He also acquired extensive holdings in banks and railroads in the Chicago area. The post-World War I depression forced him to liquidate most of his holdings in the amount of $100 million to $150 million, and surrender control of Armour and Company.