"He, more than any fifty men, is responsible for this stock crash," wrote Senator Carter Glass of Virginia last week to the Philadelphia Record. He—Charles Edwin Mitchell, head of National City-Bank—made no reply. Hostility of Senator Glass was an old story; besides, Mr. Mitchell had serious troubles to cope with. The still ominous market; the cancelled Corn Exchange merger; the rumored differences with his directors—Mr. Mitchell's position was carrying hazards with its honors.
But troubles are not new to Mr. Mitchell nor has he often been bested by them. In 1898, a Junior at Amherst, he was troubled by his father's business failure, but got himself an assistant instructorship in public speaking and worked his way through his Senior year. In Chicago, where he went to work (for $10 weekly) for Western Electric, he found that his address, chosen for cheapness, excited criticism; further discovered that he had innocently selected a room in one of the Loop's worst dives. Solution: He moved, paid more rent, still made his $10 serve. In 1907 came a really major trouble. Summoned to Manhattan to be assistant to the president of Trust Co. of America, Mr. Mitchell had hardly unpacked his grip when the Panic of 1907 arose to greet him. Solution: Skillful liquidation of Trust Co. investments, during which Mr. Mitchell gained experience later applied in the formation of his own investment company.
These early troubles surmounted, Mr. Mitchell enjoyed many a successful year, during which, under his presidency. Na- tional City Bank became first a billion dollar, then a two billion dollar, institution. Within the past year, through its merger with Farmers' Loan and Trust (TIME, April 8) and the all-but-ratified merger with Corn Exchange Bank (TIME, Sept. 30) the Bank reiterated its position as greatest U. S. bank, became greatest world bank. Now Mr. Mitchell, who used to say that he was too poor to eat at Child's, instead, for reputation's sake, fed at expensive hotels, could (but did not) eat at lunch wagons or hot dog stands. Definitely, finally, he had arrived.
Yet in spite of, or rather, because of, his high position, a new and current flock of troubles has risen to plague him. In April, when he pulled the call money market through a tight place, he received general kudos (though it was then that Senator Glass first began to reflect upon "Mitchellism," its nature and evils). But in October Mr. Mitchell arrived home from Europe just in time to anticipate the greatest Market crash in history with a bullish pronouncement. When the banking consortium was formed to halt the panic, it was the House of Morgan that received most of the plaudits; furthermore the bankers did not precisely drop the panic in its tracks.