George Foster Peabody (he always used his full name to differentiate himself from George Peabody, a well-known slave trader in Georgetown, Maryland) was born to working parents in a well-to-do neighborhood in Columbus, Georgia, but the Civil War
destroy his family wealth and forced a moved to a working-class Brooklyn, New York neighborhood. After joining an investment firm owned by Spencer Trask, Peabody became heavily involved in building railroads in the western United States. By 1906 Peabody had accumulated enough wealth to retire.
One of his life-long ambitions was to improve education in the South, especially for African-Americans. Additionally, as an active member of the Democratic Party he opposed the nomination of William Jennings Bryan in 1896, but later incorporated some of the campaign issues in his agendas, specifically as Montetary Convention of 1897 and as Treasurer of the Democratic Party in 1904.
Peabody, though, was not interested in running for office. When Woodrow Wilson
offered him a position on the Federal Trade Commission he refused, but did serve as a member of the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve. In 1923 George Foster Peabody purchase an inn at Warm Springs, and personally recommended it to his old friend Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1924 (the future president was stricken with polio in 1921 and Peabody felt the warm, mineral-rich water might help Roosevelt regain his ability to walk).